• Racism in football

FA criticised for five-game racism ban

ESPN staff
May 17, 2013
FARE believes the FA should have followed UEFA's example © Getty Images

The Football Association's introduction of a minimum five-match ban for racist and homophobic abuse from next season has been described as a "missed opportunity" by campaigners.

An FA vote on Thursday confirmed the new measure, which is half the length of the ten-game suspension UEFA plans to enact in its competitions next term.

David Bernstein, the FA chairman, has insisted that the five-game ban could be extended for more serious offences but Piara Powar, director of campaigning group Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), believes that UEFA's example should have been followed.

"As someone working across borders to promote anti-discrimination I think it's a shame it can't be the ten games UEFA say they will implement in their own competitions and that they are recommending all national associations will adopt," Powar said.

"It is a missed opportunity, and also a shame when the FA has already sanctioned a player, Luis Suarez, for more than five matches for racism.

"One of the biggest concerns is inconsistency and mixed messages.

"It's progress to have a minimum sanction, but sanctions for players appear to be made up on the hoof. Why is biting ten games [the recent ban given to Suarez] and racism five games? Surely UEFA's ten-match ban should be the standard to follow."

However, Bernstein defended the FA's plans and believes the UEFA measures are too heavy-handed, and that the European governing body announced its own plans just as his own organisation was concluding a long period of consultation on the issue.

"From our point of view it [the ten-match ban] has no subtlety to it," he said. "It should have subtlety to it. Any racism is unacceptable but there are different levels of offence.

"It's also a timing issue. We have been through an extensive process and have to get it approved through English football. It [UEFA's ban] came in right at the end of the process when we have spent months getting a consensus.

"But if European football says the line is in the wrong place then we may have to re-evaluate that."

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