FSE set for UEFA talks

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Published: Thursday 30th October 2014 by The News Editor

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UEFA will be urged on Friday to exempt away fans from the ban on attending matches in stadiums closed due to racism.

Football Supporters Europe (FSE), the umbrella group for fans, will hold talks with UEFA in Nyon – with UEFA president Michel Platini likely to be involved – and will express its view that there are better measures to deal with racism.

The issue has blown up in the last fortnight where some Manchester City fans had booked flights to CSKA Moscow only to find themselves excluded along with home supporters.

The club were also angry after up to 300 people – said to be guests of sponsors – were in the stadium supporting CSKA despite the ban for previous racist behaviour.

Kevin Miles, who represents English fans on FSE, will be one of the delegates at the meeting and has serious misgivings about blanket stadium closures.

He told Press Association Sport: “We believe that at the least away fans should be exempted from the closure.

“There is a precedent when Northern Ireland played Serbia in the past and the Irish fans who had already booked travel were allowed to attend. We don’t see why away fans should be included in any ban.

“You are effectively punishing the innocent – if you punish everyone collectively it makes no distinction and there is an impact on away fans. For the Man City match in Moscow, many City fans had bought their flights before the ban was imposed.

“Any away fan who can demonstrate they have paid for the flights should be allowed compensation from the fine levied on the club.”

Miles said the FSE has other issues about stadium closures – believing they can even be counter-productive. The FSE will propose clubs found guilty of racist behaviour of fans are forced to spend the fines on education programmes and security equipment such as better CCTV systems to identify and ban perpetrators.

He added: “We are fully behind any measures to deal with racism and always have been.

“Stadium closures are not just a blunt instrument however – the fact they punish the innocent as well as the guilty creates an anti-UEFA solidarity effect and drives a wedge between the authorities and all of the fans so you risk losing some of your biggest allies in the fight against racism.”

Miles said supporters would be less likely to report racist behaviour if it could lead to a stadium closure that would affect them. The fact UEFA still allowed sponsors’ guests into closed stadiums made the governing body “vulnerable to a charge of hypocrisy”, he added.

“The fact CSKA have had a second batch of closures suggests the first one didn’t work,” said Miles. “It also doesn’t look as though anyone is doing much to change the climate in Moscow and Eastern European countries often deny they have a problem.

“We don’t want UEFA to be any softer on racism but to make sure measures are more effective with a successful combination of education with enforcement measures, legislation and policing as seen in countries such as England.”

Published: Thursday 30th October 2014 by The News Editor

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