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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 13:03 GMT
French officials to combat racism
Uefa president Michel Platini
Michel Platini has urged action on racism in French Football

Leading sports figures are uniting in an effort to combat racism in French football, and want harsher punishments.

President of European football's governing body, Uefa, Michel Platini, sports minister Bernard Laporte and French league president Frederic Thiriez all spoke out after racism tarnished the image of French football once again last weekend.

"The fight against racism is the dossier I want to work the most on, as it is something intolerable," Platini said.

Thiriez wants the government to crack down on a far-right group of fans from first-division club Metz calling themselves 'The Faction' - which includes the even more extreme 'Identity Youth' group.

"It is without doubt the time to announce such a dissolution for the first time," Thiriez said, adding that he has submitted the matter to the interior ministry.

About 10 members of 'Youth Identity' made Nazi salutes at the end of last week's match at Lyon, in response to Metz players throwing T-shirts into the crowd emblazoned with an anti-racism logo.

Metz stewards are working with police to identify the culprits, who could face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to US$22,600.

Burkina Faso and Libourne Saint-Seurin's Boubacar Kebe
Boubacar Kebe was the target of a racist banner in France

"I hope banning orders will be given by the police chief," Thiriez said.

"Everyone has to do their job. Football is doing it, public authorities have to do it."

In a separate incident, a Metz fan has been banned from attending matches for three months for making racist remarks to Valenciennes Moroccan captain Abdeslam Ouaddou.

On Friday, some Bastia fans at a second-division match against Libourne Saint-Seurin unfurled a racist banner aimed at Burkina Faso's Boubacar Kebe.

The referee delayed the start by three minutes until the banner was removed.

"The Ouaddou affair is very serious," Platini said.

"But it concerns an isolated individual. The Kebe affair is even worse, as it is premeditated."

Platini has previously called for the creation of a specialized police force dedicated to fighting racism in football.

Kebe refused to play Friday because he had already been racially insulted by some Bastia supporters on 14 September when he reacted with a gesture that led to him being sent off.

Bastia could face a further points deduction, but Laporte does not think this is enough, saying clubs should be held financially responsible for the behaviour of its fans.

Bastia face sanctions for racism
23 Feb 08 |  African
Racism row club wants replay
20 Feb 08 |  African
Referee unaware of Ouaddou abuse
18 Feb 08 |  African


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