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Blatter calls for relegation to punish racism

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Blatter calls for relegation to punish racism
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Blatter calls for relegation to punish racism

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has backed relegation as an appropriate punishment for racism in football.

The issue of racist abuse has been firmly in the spotlight recently, with AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng's walk-off in a friendly against Pro Patria at the forefront. Lazio had previously been fined 40,000 euros by UEFA for racist chanting in a Europa League match against Tottenham.

Blatter praised Boateng for delivering a "strong warning" to offenders, but insists that point deductions and relegation should be the ultimate sanctions against a club that cannot control the behavior of its fans.

"[Racism] is a phenomena where football is a victim of our society," Blatter told FIFA.com. "Discrimination and racism is everywhere in our society. We in football cannot be made responsible for what happens in our society. But nowhere in the world – regarding all the problems you can have in your private life, in business, in politics – can you solve a problem by running away."

"I agree with and support the movement of Boateng – as I have said – as it was a strong warning. It is now up to us to take the adequate steps. What I feel we should do is give instructions to our national associations and the confederations – specifically to the disciplinary committees – to be very strong.

"It is not enough to give a fine. Playing a game without spectators is one of the possible sanctions, but the best would be the deduction of points and the relegation of a team, because finally the club is responsible for their spectators.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has also called on the sport to unify against racism, telling Radio 24: "Sometimes we talk about lowering our voices, but everyone needs to raise their voices against racism. I supported Milan and Boateng’s choice to leave the field due to the racist chanting in Busto Arsizio. It was a strong gesture but maybe it will be difficult to repeat.

"But we must have the strength to be indignant, to say ‘enough’ and to turn our backs on those who chant offensive things. It’s important to talk about it, to discuss it. We can’t pretend that nothing happened. We have to say ‘enough.'"

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