Manchester City's Yaya Toure has called for "radical sanctions" against countries with racist fans as Fifa launched a monitoring system designed to crack down on the problem before the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Toure, who sidestepped speculation over his own future after his agent claimed the midfielder was 90 per cent certain to move this summer, suffered racist abuse in 2013 playing for City against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.
A recent report also highlighted the scale of the problem in Russia’s domestic league and Fifa said that although Russia’s status as World Cup host was secure, countries could ultimately be banned if they failed to deal with the problem.
“I have been in the situation where there have been monkey chants. It’s difficult to deal with,” Toure said. “As sportsmen you want to continue to the end but when you hear something like that it hurts you and breaks you. You need to give them a radical sanction – paying a fine is not enough; you need to do more.”
Fifa’s anti-discrimination monitoring service will cover high-risk matches among the 900 World Cup qualifiers as well as some friendlies. Trained monitors will report to Fifa with their findings, enabling disciplinary action to be taken against offenders. “Something has to be done,” Toure said. “No messing. They have to understand they need to change otherwise the sanction will be worse.”
Jeffrey Webb, the Concacaf president who oversees the Fifa anti-racism taskforce set up in the wake of the storm over Sepp Blatter's insistence the problem could be solved with a handshake, was last summer critical of the time taken to set up the monitoring system. The programme is being overseen by the European anti-discrimination body Fare, whose executive director, Piara Powar, said Russia needed urgently to improve its record.
“If there is evidence of discrimination this will be passed to Fifa and there will be associations who will be banned or play behind closed doors,” said Powar. “There will be some pain as a result of this process but without that pain people will not really understand how they should be tackling these issues.”
Howard Webb, the former World Cup final referee who is in charge of Premier League officials, also sits on the taskforce and said the introduction of independent observers would help remove some of the burden from match referees. "In the future that may evolve so that you have contact between the person in the stands and the officials," he said.
Under current rules, referees can ask for an announcement to be made asking for racist abuse to stop, then take players off the pitch and even abandon the match.
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