Sectarian & racist chanting could lead to abandonments in Scotland

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland sports news correspondent
Fifa's new measures were enacted in England's win in Bulgaria
Fifa's new measures were enacted in England's win in Bulgaria earlier this month

Sectarian and racist chanting at football matches in Scotland could lead to games being abandoned if the game's world governing body gets its way.

Fifa has written to the Scottish FA, and all other national associations, asking them to implement their new zero tolerance approach to such behaviour.

Scotland's football authorities will resist doing so in full.

But plans are being finalised that would see clubs face tougher punishment than currently in Scottish Cup matches.

The SPFL were not willing to comment about how Fifa's intervention might apply to other domestic competitions.

The Scottish FA, the SPFL, the Scottish Government and the police have created a taskforce to look at the issue following a number of high profile and controversial incidents at matches in the past few years.

"Part of that is to discuss and determine how best to incorporate Fifa's Disciplinary Code - and its permitted modifications within the domestic game - into Scottish football," added a Scottish FA statement.

"We have written to our members to inform them of a review of our policy and process with regard to the relevant disciplinary rules in the context of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

"This review has occurred in light of Fifa's updated disciplinary code and the increased domestic focus on unacceptable conduct."

What is Fifa's new approach?

Fifa's 'three-point protocol' instructs referees to stop matches so fans can be warned over the public address system.

If the behaviour continues, the second step would be to suspend the match and allow players to return to the dressing room. If the problem persists, the match could then be abandoned.

The new measures were enacted for the first time during England's international against Bulgaria in Sofia earlier this month, when some home fans racially abused a number of the travelling players.

The referee halted the game to allow an announcement to be made but stopped short of abandonment.

Now Fifa wants football across the world to adopt the new protocol in a bid to get tough on discriminatory behaviour at domestic level.

In a letter to all national associations, the governing body's Secretary General, Fatma Samoura wrote: "Fifa now urges all member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies to introduce the three-step procedure in their domestic competitions, to pursue a zero-tolerance policy towards racist and discriminatory incidents in football, and to severely punish such behaviour."

Scottish Government justice secretary Humza Yousaf said in a statement that the three-point protocol is "one of the measures we would like the football authorities to consider".

"Our preferred solution has always been that football authorities and clubs proactively shape and deliver a robust and meaningful solution, but we are ready to act if football does not," he added.

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