CSKA punished over racist chants
UEFA has imposed a partial stadium closure on CSKA Moscow following the racist behaviour of their fans, the European governing body has announced.
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The Russian club's supporters were found guilty of racially abusing Manchester City's Yaya Toure during the Champions League game between the two clubs at the Arena Khimki last week.
The sanction will apply to CSKA's next home match in the competition, against Bayern Munich on November 27, and will see section D of the stadium - where the offence occurred - closed.
In a separate development, UEFA has also relieved its venue director from that evening of his duties for failing make an announcement calling for the abuse to stop. Referee Ovidiu Hategan has been cleared of any blame as to why that did not happen.
Toure complained to Hategan that he was being subjected to monkey chants from some supporters early in the second half of the Group D fixture, which City won 2-1.
CSKA later vehemently denied Toure's claims but UEFA ruled against them following a private hearing of its control and disciplinary body at headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
UEFA believes the partial closure marks a step up in its fight against discrimination, having been criticised for fines widely considered as inadequate in previous years.
Under new regulations, introduced this summer, this punishment can be followed by a full stadium closure for a second offence. Sanctions for third offence include match forfeitures, points deductions and even disqualification from a competition.
A statement read: "The fight against racism is a high priority for UEFA.
"The European governing body has a zero-tolerance policy towards racism and discrimination on the pitch and in the stands.
"All forms of racist behaviour are considered serious offences against the disciplinary regulations and are punished with the most severe sanctions.
"Following the entry into force of the new disciplinary regulations on 1 June, the fight against racist conduct has been stepped up a level - resulting in more severe sanctions to deter any such behaviour."
Toure was so upset about the matter that, after the game, he even raised the possibility of a player boycott of the 2018 World Cup in Russia if the issue was not tackled.
He said: "If we aren't confident at the World Cup, coming to Russia, we don't come."
He added: "I want to see UEFA do something and take some action.
"Maybe they could ban the stadium, I don't know, for a couple of years or a couple of months."
There were further incidences of apparent monkey-chanting when the Ivory Coast international was in possession after he had made his initial complaint to Hategan.
Yet CSKA said at the time they were "surprised and disappointed" by Toure's claims, which they believed were "unfounded".
City, however, backed their player and submitted a formal complaint to UEFA, which they followed up with a folio of evidence including witness statements.
City, who face CSKA again at the Etihad Stadium next week, have declined to comment on the verdict. The Russian club have not yet responded.
On the matter of procedure concerning the reporting of such incidents by match officials - UEFA's 'three-step protocol' - Hategan has been found to have acted correctly.
Under guidelines issued in 2009, referees are supposed to report a complaint of spectator racial abuse from a player to the stadium's safety officer. A public announcement should then be made warning fans to desist. If the problem continues the referee can then suspend the match for a period or even, if it still does not stop, abandon it altogether.
An internal investigation into why this did not happen was ordered by UEFA president Michel Platini.
The investigation concluded that Hategan and his additional assistant at the end concerned had witnessed the "inappropriate behaviour of a small number of fans" when Toure complained.
A statement read: "The referee immediately asked the fourth official to request an announcement to be made to the public.
"The venue director (the UEFA officer in charge of football operations), who had not heard the chanting himself, did not activate the procedure.
"As the chanting had ceased, the referee decided to resume the game with the free-kick.
"The conclusion of the investigation is therefore that the referee had correctly triggered the first step of the procedure by requesting the stadium announcement.
"The venue director acted inappropriately, though in good faith, so causing the failure in the activation of the first step of the standard procedure, as decided by the referee.
"The UEFA venue director at the Arena Khimki has been relieved of his duties."