Michel Platini has warned players they will be booked if they walk off the pitch at Euro 2012 in protest at being racially abused, though the Uefa president has empowered referees to halt matches if the issue flares up during the tournament.
The Italy forward Mario Balotelli has threatened to leave the field of play if he is subjected to abuse in Poland and Ukraine yet Platini, hosting a pre-tournament press conference in Warsaw, insisted the rule preventing players from departing the pitch without the officials' permission would stand. In that case, a player would be cautioned.
"It's a yellow card," said Platini when asked what would happen if a player took matters into his own hands. "We'd certainly support the referee if he decided to stop the game. It's not a player, Mr Balotelli, who's in charge of refereeing. It's the referee who takes these decisions. So, the referee has been given advice and he can stop the game if there are problems. We will stop the game if there are problems because I think racism is the worst of this."
The line of questioning increasingly appeared to frustrate the Uefa president. "What would you like me to say? How would you want me to answer this?" said Platini, when asked to respond to Campbell's comments. "I don't think there's any more racism in Poland and Ukraine than in France or anywhere else, or even in England. It's not a footballing problem. It's a problem for society. It's the states that need to take charge of this.
"There is more and more nationalism in Europe. You can feel this at a number of football matches. There are some worries, some big worries, but a lot has been done thanks to football. There have been problems with violence in the 1970s in England. They made great strides actually to change the situation and we need to do work in the field of racism and we need to stop this from happening. But how can you say outside the stadium: 'He's a racist, he can't come in; he's not a racist, he can come in'? You can't do it."
Uefa's chief refereeing officer, Pierluigi Collina, insisted each of the 16 teams involved and the governing body's 12 referees had been made aware of the procedure to follow if one of their players is abused. "Things are clear," he said. "Referees have a protocol so they know what they have to do. The match director, who is responsible for each match, knows what has to be done on the field of play."
The governing body has invited Football Against Racism in Europe (Fare) to select a group of 31 expert spotters who will monitor every team's fans for banners, chants and racist behaviour inside stadiums which would breach Uefa's zero-tolerance anti-discrimination policy. "There is no question we are worried about this tournament more than any other," said Piara Powar, Fare's executive director. "I think Platini understands what is going on.
"For us, the Uefa system is three strikes and you're out. Fine and then another fineand then a ban or forcing teams to play behind closed doors.If the system is in full effect, we could have a team kicked out of the competition for far-right banners."
source: the guardian
While it's a good thing that there will be watchers in place to try and monitor racist behaviour in stadiums, and that there is a protocol in place for referees, it is a simple fact that despite protocol, players like Balotelli have suffered and do suffer from racism from fans, and, unfortunately, fellow players.
Threatening to punish the victims of this racism does not seem like the correct answer to this problem, UEFA.