Friday, October 19, 2012
Chris Hughton yesterday warned the fight against racism had reached a watershed moment after the ugly scenes that marred England’s U21s Euro2013 play-off success in Serbia earlier this week.
The Norwich City boss insists fines from the football authorities are meaningless after Stuart Pearce’s squad and coaching staff were subjected to racist and physical abuse following their 2-0 aggregate win.
Uefa have already instigated proceedings against both the English and Serbian FA’s over the behaviour of their players at the final whistle. The Serbs also face charges over alleged racist chanting from their fans – but Hughton is demanding tough action in the form of bans and ground lockouts.
“What we have seen over the last few years are fines which are so minimal, they are no deterrent,” he said. “The only way for it to be a deterrent, certainly abroad, is to play games behind closed doors and ban teams. Fines don’t work, they are paid off very quickly and they are no deterrent. All of us in the game want to see improvements made. We have made great strides here in England, and for that to happen abroad, there has to be stronger deterrents.
“I know in England within the stadiums that we will ban people, we will take away their season tickets. The only way for it to be a deterrent if you are taking about international football is to play games behind closed doors or ban teams.”
Tottenham’s young defender Danny Rose, a player Hughton knew well from his time at White Hart Lane, was red carded after the final whistle after reacting to abuse by kicking a ball into the crowd. The Norwich chief has backed calls for that dismissal to be over-turned.
“Yes I would like to see that,” he said. “Even without knowing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, but seeing it, it is quite obvious that one individual has been put in almost an intolerable position. I think there were reasons why he has acted in the way he has done and I do certainly feel that would be very appropriate. I know Danny and first and foremost he is a very good young footballer. He is somebody that has been subjected to abuse that he shouldn’t have and he reacted in a way that most people would have done.
“The circumstances this week have given Uefa a real good opportunity to stamp their authority on this situation. It is not the first time it has happened there. We have done a lot of good work and have reaped the benefits from it, but unfortunately the way we see it here is a lot different to how they see it abroad.”
Hughton is adamant the British game has made huge strides in tackling racist abuse since his own playing days despite high profile recent cases involving John Terry and Luis Suarez.
“I was brought up in the late 1970s and early 1980s and if we are talking about racial chants or abuse from players it was something that happened, and at times as a regular occurrence,” he said. “That was then, in that period. Thankfully when I speak to our players, modern-day players, and the interaction they have in the changing room, those days are long gone.
“Instances arise every now and again, but the important thing is we stamp down on them. The only way to deal with it is to be vocal and we are certainly in a better place than when I played.
“It is a very multi-cultural game and changing room now. That is the big difference from when I was playing and I have to say there are less problems. Not only do they train week in, week out but they also go out socially together so we have that on-going process happening here rather than the need to sit players down and talk to them specifically. I have to say again that in this country the incidents are isolated.”