Sepp Blatter: Closing stadiums for racist behavior ‘unduly excessive’

Sections of Roma's Stadio Olimpico were temporarily closed after fans aimed 'territorially discriminatory' chants toward Napoli supporters.

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter has claimed punishing fans’ racist behavior by closing stadiums is "extremely dubious" and "unduly excessive".

Blatter said sporting sanctions such as points deductions that "cause real hurt to" clubs are a better punishment than closing part or all of a stadium for matches.

FIFA has itself ordered games to be played behind closed doors – Ukraine were ordered to play a World Cup qualifier against Poland in an empty stadium after fans made monkey chants and performed Nazi salutes.

UEFA has also issued a number of similar sanctions after racist behaviour by fans.

But Blatter, in his column in FIFA Weekly, said that while he wants "drastic and severe" sanctions for racism, that "football without a crowd is like a concert without sound".

He added: "Games behind closed doors are also included in the (FIFA) code but I regard this penalty as an extremely dubious instrument. They represent a disproportionately collective punishment.


"Furthermore it involves excluding innocent fans of the opposing team.

"In the final analysis matches played behind closed doors penalise football. The punishment is unduly excessive.

"Instead it is the troublemakers who must be punished. And it is clear to me that the clubs are responsible for the hooligans.

"To my mind there remains only one solution to the problem: sporting sanctions are the only effective punishment. It has to cause the clubs real hurt otherwise nothing will change."

FIFA’s disciplinary code punishes racism by a warning for a first offence and then more serious sanctions such as stadium closures, points deductions or even expulsion from the competition for further offences.