UEFA steps up racism fight with tougher sanctions

    AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng walked off the pitch in January after being subjected to racist abuse.

    Story highlights

    • UEFA sets out punishments for clubs and nations whose fans are found guilty of racist abuse
    • Member associations encouraged to follow similar steps
    • Berlin's Olympic Stadium to host Champions League final with Europa League final in Warsaw
    • Winner of Europa League expected to receive place in the Champions League from 2015
    After a year where football's name has been dragged through the mud by a series of racism controversies, UEFA has announced that players and officials will face a 10-match ban if found guilty of racist abuse.
    Following a meeting of UEFA's executive committee in London Thursday, the European governing body confirmed the bans would apply to its own competitions, while other national associations remain free to decide on their own punishments.
    The new tougher sanction comes just over a week after the English Football Association drew criticism for its plans to introduce a minimum five-match suspension for racism.
    "An association should adopt the same or similar measures. UEFA has always acted in a way to try to convince people rather than impose," said UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino at a press conference.
    "I don't think you measure the way of fighting against racism in one simple measure and sanction.
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    "The way I read the FA's decision is that it could be five matches and it could also be 15. The FA is sure their way of regulating is more correct for England.
    "It's their decision but it doesn't mean they do more or less than us. Everyone has to do what they can do in this field.
    "The FA is autonomous and knows best what is best for England to do in the fight against racism. It is probably one of the countries where the most has been done."
    According to details released by UEFA, clubs and national side's whose fans are found guilty of racist abuse will be punished with a partial stadium closure as a first offense, while a second offense will lead to a complete closure.
    Only last week, AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli told CNN that he was prepared to walk off the pitch if racially abused once again.
    The Italy striker was subjected to "monkey chants" by visiting fans during Milan's goalless draw with Roma at the San Siro.
    "I always said that if it (racism) happened in the stadium I will just do like 'nobody says nothing and I don't care,'" Balotelli told CNN.
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    "But this time I think I've changed my mind a little bit. If it's going to happen one more time, then I'm going to leave the pitch because it's so stupid."
    Balotelli is not the first player to have suffered racial abuse while playing for AC Milan -- one of the most revered clubs in Europe having won 18 league titles and seven European Cups.
    In January, midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng walked off the pitch in disgust after being racially abused by a section of supporters during a friendly game at Pro Patria.
    Since then, UEFA has stated its intention to introduce stricter punishments for those found guilty of racism after being heavily criticized in the past for being too lenient.
    The new rules are intended to curb racism at clubs such as Italian club Lazio, which has been charged four times by UEFA so far this season, with the Italian side paying $300,000 in fines.
    Europe's governing body also plans to introduce the implementation of biological passports for players in the future.
    Biological profiles are built up by collating an athlete's drug test results over time, therefore making it easier to detect differences which could indicate the use of a banned substance.
    A new UEFA anti-doping program will also examine 900 samples given in the past five years to decipher whether steroids have been used.
    On Friday, UEFA is expected to announce changes to the Europa League with the winner set to be granted a place in the Champions League from 2015.
    Meanwhile, Berlin's Olympic Stadium will host the 2015 Champions League final, while Warsaw will welcome the finalists of the Europa League.