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CSKA Moscow fans punished

30 October 2013, 22:39

Nyon - Russians CSKA Moscow were on Wednesday hit with a partial stadium ban by UEFA due to racist abuse of Manchester City's Yaya Toure in a Champions League match.

In a statement, UEFA said that their disciplinary body had ordered the closure of Sector D of CSKA's Arena Khimki for the club's next Champions League game against Germany's Bayern Munich on November 27.

"The fight against racism is a high priority for UEFA. The European governing body has a zero tolerance policy towards racism and discrimination on the pitch and in the stands," UEFA said.

Manchester City's captain Toure -- who is from Ivory Coast -- claimed he was the target of racist chanting during his club's 2-1 win in Moscow on October 23.

Toure described as "unbelievable and very, very sad" the monkey chants reportedly directed at him by CSKA fans during the game in the Russian capital.

Toure, who speaks some Russian after playing two seasons with Ukraine's Metalurg Donetsk, was adamant that the chanting in the 18,636-seat stadium was directed specifically at him.

The Moscow club's general director Roman Babayev claimed to have heard nothing offensive coming from the terraces, however.

He told the ITAR-TASS news agency that the punishment by UEFA was the "minimum" possible and other clubs had been treated more harshly.

"But CSKA does not acknowledge the fact of racism. It was not proven, as shown by the evidence of the UEFA delegate to the match," he said.

"In a word, our impressions of the UEFA decisions are not unambiguous. We could have been punished more severely, taking account of the aggressive campaign launched against us in the English press."

The stand that has been closed is quite small and CSKA matches rarely sell out so in reality, the closure probably won't have a great effect on CSKA's attendance or earnings.

UEFA said it was crucial to hit back against stadium racism.

"All forms of racist behaviour are considered serious offences against the disciplinary regulations and are punished with the most severe sanctions," they said.

"Following the entry into force of the new disciplinary regulations on 1 June, the fight against racist conduct has been stepped up a level -- resulting in more severe sanctions to deter any such behaviour."

UEFA president Michel Platini, who has made the fight against racism in the game a major priority, had demanded to know why Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan allowed play to continue.

Under UEFA's new three-step anti-racism protocol, in the event of racist chants, the referee should halt the match and issue a call over the public address system for them to stop.

If the chanting persists, the referee is meant to suspend the game and take the players off the field, before a second announcement.

If the chanting resumes once play restarts, the game is supposed to be abandoned.

UEFA said that its disciplinary team pored over reports from several officials present at the game, video and sound footage, as well as statements from various individuals involved in the running of the match.

"The conclusions clearly established why the three-step protocol was not initiated," they said.

They explained that in the 54th minute of the Group D fixture, Hategan stopped the game to award a free-kick and give a yellow card to a CSKA player.

While play was stopped, Toure complained that home fans were directing racist chants towards him.

"The referee and the additional assistant referee standing on that side of the field witnessed the inappropriate behaviour of a small number of fans," UEFA said, noting that Hategan immediately asked the fourth official to request a public announcement.

But the "venue director" -- the UEFA officer in charge of football operations -- had not heard the chanting and did not activate the procedure.

Given that the chanting had ceased, Hategan decided to resume the game with the free-kick.

"The conclusion of the investigation is therefore that the referee had correctly triggered the first step of the procedure by requesting the stadium announcement.

"The venue director acted inappropriately, though in good faith, so causing the failure in the activation of the first step of the standard procedure, as decided by the referee," UEFA said.



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