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UEFA OKs minimum 10-match ban for racist abuse

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Kevin-Prince Boateng was the target of racist abuse in a match in Italy this past season.

The UEFA executive committee on Thursday ratified a 10-match minimum ban for racist abuse by players or officials.

The changes were first announced last month by UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino and will now be included in the disciplinary regulations.

While UEFA can only enforce the punishments in its competitions, its 53 members will be asked to adopt the same measures domestically at its congress on Friday. The English Football Association announced last week it will introduce a five-match minimum ban for racism.

"An association should adopt the same or similar measures,'' Infantino said. "UEFA has always acted in a way to try to convince people rather than impose. I don't think you measure the way of fighting against racism in one simple measure and sanction.''

The debate on racism intensified this season after AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng led his team off a field during an exhibition match in Italy after facing abuse from fans in January.

On May 12, play was stopped for almost two minutes during the second half when visiting Roma supporters would not stop chanting at Boateng and Milan teammate Mario Balotelli.

Warnings over the stadium loud speaker went unheeded, leading a referee to briefly suspend a Serie A match due to racism for the first time.

UEFA has been criticized in the past for only fining national associations for racist abuse by fans.

In the future, if there is racism in the stands at UEFA matches, the first sanction for clubs will no longer just be a fine but a partial stadium closure. If there is further abuse, there will be a full stadium closure and a fine of $65,000 imposed on the team.

The executive committee also decided to raise the minimum ban for assaulting match officials from 10 to 15 matches. For insulting a match official, the minimum sanction will rise from two to three matches.

The venues for the finals of the UEFA club competitions in 2015 were also approved - Berlin's Olympic Stadium for the Champions League and Warsaw's National Stadium for the Europa League.

Infantino said details on the format of the Europa League will be announced to its congress on Friday, with the winners set to earn a place in the Champions League from 2015.

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