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Soccer body FIFA may extend punishments globally after racism at Bulgaria-England match

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Health Organization & FIFA Press Conference - WHO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland - October 4, 2019. FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the press conference. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

ZURICH (Reuters) - Soccer body FIFA on Tuesday said it may extend punishments globally after racist incidents, including monkey chants directed at black players, marred a match between Bulgaria and England.

“FIFA may extend worldwide any sanctions that a Confederation or Member Association imposes for racist incidents, such as those which occurred in Sofia during the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier match between Bulgaria and England,” the Zurich-based organisation said.

“FIFA therefore expects to be informed as soon as practicable regarding the relevant decisions of the UEFA disciplinary bodies in relation to this particular case,” it added. “This would allow any sanctions imposed to be extended worldwide.”

European soccer’s ruling body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria for racist behaviour, including Nazi salutes and chants, and against England for not providing enough travelling stewards.

The game, won 6-0 by England on Monday, was twice halted in the first half and a public announcement was made under UEFA’s three-step protocol for dealing with racist incidents during matches.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said more needed to be done to tackle the “obnoxious disease” of racism which seemed to be getting worse.

“I call on all football governing bodies to join us and think together of new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football,” he said.

Competition organisers should enact regulations which envisage life bans from stadiums for those who are found guilty of racist behaviour at a football match, Infantino said.

Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Toby Davis