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Kick it out

Peter van Dyk | 14:56 UK time, Friday, 17 March 2006

"It" is racism. And Fifa, football's world governing body, is getting serious, with clubs facing automatic relegation if their fans racially abuse opposition players.

Football has mostly tried to ignore racist chanting and other acts from fans, but events of the past year or two have made it impossible to ignore.

Barcelona's Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o threatened to walk out of a game against Real Zaragoza after being abused by fans. The Spanish FA fined the club £6,000.

Earlier in the season, Messina's Ivory Coast defender Marc Zoro was reduced to tears by Inter Milan fans' chanting and threatened to walk off the field. And in Madrid last year black players for England were subjected to monkey chants during an international friendly match against Spain.

So Fifa has decreed that clubs face being deducted three points for a first offence, six for a second and relegation for further offences.

Countries that don't enforce the penalties could be expelled from international football for two years.

Will Fifa's new policy make a difference? How do you think the problem of racism among football crowds can be solved? Why hasn't it gone away? Send us your comments or join the debate.

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