The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Racism thrives on Uefa’s inertia

Thierry Henry, one of the most likeable men you could hope to meet, in life let alone football, went to work in Eindhoven on Wednesday night and was racially abused. Arsenal players have been victimised before in Uefa competitions: Henry’s teammate, Patrick Vieira, was once called a “black monkey” by that nasty Lazio player, Sinisa Mihajlovic.

More recent recipients of racist abuse include Liverpool’s Emile Heskey at Valencia and assorted Fulham players against Hajduk Split. Sol Campbell suffered particularly poisonous heckling while on England duty in Bulgaria.

And what has Uefa’s reaction traditionally been' Huffing and puffing but little proper punishing.

Uefa’s disciplinary committee is scheduled to meet on October 10 to discuss the bigotry directed at Premiership players in European ties. This is the time when the body charged with nurturing the health of European football should be inflicting ground closures on clubs such as PSV Eindhoven and Hajduk Split rather than merely rapping their wrists with feeble fines.

When it comes to tackling racism at their matches, Uefa is long on rhetoric but short on real action. But this racist abuse of English-based players — any player — has to be stamped out now; Uefa’s inertia has simply allowed it to fester.

Henry refused to be drawn too much on what bile was launched his way by PSV xenophobes but he did remark, tellingly: “Now Uefa must do their business.” A Uefa spokesman responded that “an investigation is under way”.

PSV are a highly respectable club, noted for promoting the careers of black players such as Ronaldo, Romario and Ruud Gullit, but a toxic minority of followers are ruining their reputation.

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