UEFA charges Rangers 2nd time over religious songs
UEFA hit Scottish champion Rangers with a second charge of ''discriminatory behavior'' over its fans' sectarian chants during Europa League matches.
UEFA said Friday it is investigating incidents during the second leg of the last-16 series against PSV Eindhoven on March 17 in Glasgow.
Last week, Rangers revealed it had been charged by UEFA following the first leg in the Netherlands on March 10.
Rangers chief executive Martin Bain said he was ''absolutely astounded'' by the second case.
''We are still in the process of preparing our submission on the away game and to be confronted with this now seems chaotic to say the least,'' Bain said in a statement on the club's website.
Rangers, which has previously been fined by UEFA over religious chants, said it faces a punishment of playing two European matches in an empty stadium next season. The club would lose millions of pounds in revenue if its 50,000-capacity Ibrox home was closed.
UEFA's disciplinary panel will hear both cases on April 28.
Bain said the club will defend its position ''very, very vigorously.''
''We will be seeking urgent meetings with UEFA at the highest level to address these issues,'' he said.
UEFA President Michel Platini has promised a zero-tolerance crackdown on discrimination and violence inside stadiums.
Last month, Platini told officials from UEFA's 53 member nations in Paris that ''there is no place in football for those who transform ... pride into sectarianism.''
UEFA rules forbid insulting people on religious grounds.
Rangers is traditionally supported by the Protestant community in Glasgow and has an intense rivalry with Celtic, which is followed by the Catholic community.
Bain acknowledged Rangers had a problem with its supporters' views, but said it worked hard to eradicate sectarianism.
He said UEFA's delegate - William Campbell, head of operations at Northern Ireland's football association - did not report a problem after the March 17 match. Rangers lost 1-0 and was eliminated.
Bain accused the international fans' group Football Against Racism in Europe of conducting a ''deliberate and targeted campaign'' against Rangers.
''What else are we expected to believe when UEFA officials give us favorable reports at our matches only to indict us later on the evidence of an outside unaccountable body?'' Bain said.