(WFI) UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino says racism is “still a scourge on the game that we have to kick it out,” revealing future proposals for stronger penalties for players, officials and fans found guilty of offenses.

Gianni Infantino addresses Soccerex. (WFI)

He was speaking Wednesday at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester where clubs, political leaders, business visionaries and press gathered to discuss a wide range of pressing matters affecting the game. 

Infantino outlined plans to double current UEFA regulations to a minimum 10-match ban for players or officials found guilty of racist behavior.
“The situation has improved but we felt it’s time to send out a strong message and we hope all federations will adopt this from next season after we have presented them at the UEFA Congress in May,” he told delegates. 
“We need to act in two ways, firstly with increased awareness and education which we need to improve, and secondly with sanctions – if a player or an official is convicted, he has to be suspended for 10 matches.
“If supporters are found guilty then the first sanction will not be a fine anymore, but a partial closure of the stadium. A 2nd offense will lead to a full closure of the stadium and a minimum fine of 50,000 Euros.
“If you only fine a club, you don’t punish the fans, so we will close that part of the stadium. In addition we’ll encourage referees to stop, interrupt and even abandon games, which will also lead to sanctions,” Infantino said. 
He later went on to tell journalists that clubs could also face point deductions if matches are abandoned.
Financial Fair Play
On describing financial fair play rules as progressing, he said “they are designed to protect the sustainability of club football going forward and so far it is very positive.
A panel debate on the future of the match-day experience. (WFI)
“They have not been imposed by us. They have been agreed by everyone. We want club football to be managed responsibly and this is a change of mindset. Nobody is happy when we have to take sanctions. The Malaga situation is sad, but a decision has been taken and we have seen an impact already. We are hard but fair.”
Euro 2016, 2020
Taking part in a special one-to-one session with David Davies, former Executive Director of the FA, Infantino also spoke about the concept for Euro 2016 and the bidding process for 2020.

For the 2016 tournament, 24 nations will compete for the first time, but Infantino said he does not think that will change the essence of the competition.
“It will be 8 more quality teams that will qualify. It will generate euphoria in all of these countries and the countries will vibrate with football as soon as they qualify. We have received great enthusiasm from the broadcasters for Euro 2016 and more free-to-air matches will be available,” he said.
Plans for 2020 are to spread the event out for the first time across 13 nations. Each nation can bid to host either group matches or the knock-out stages and final. 
“It is fantastic news for the fans. The Euros will go to the fans of 13 countries on the 60th anniversary of the competition. We’re looking at logistics to make it easier and a maximum of 2 hours flight between group cities,” he explained.
“The more bidding we have the happier we are. Like in any bidding process, there will be great enthusiasm.”
Also on the Agenda

Manchester Central (WFI)

Earlier on Wednesday, English FA chairman and former chairman of Manchester City David Bernstein opened the event by describing Manchester as a global brand that is defined as a football city.

“Football is a fundamental part of how we see our city growing in the future,” he said before Adrian Bevington, Director of Communications of the FA, described the event, now in its 14th year, as an opportunity to listen to what the industry is saying. 
With the FA celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, Bevington spoke of its desire more than ever to make the game accessible to all before Infantino kicked off two days of panels and debate. 
Other speakers on day one included football legends such as Eusebio and Bobby Charlton as well as personalities from the game, including ex-Chairman of Premier League club Reading John Madejski and former players such as Edwin van de Sar and Gaizka Mendieta. 

Reported from Manchester by INSIDER’s Dermot Ledwith 

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