Spanish football vows tougher stance on ultras

Lionel Messi: Subject of abuse. Picture: Getty/AFP

Lionel Messi: Subject of abuse. Picture: Getty/AFP

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SPAIN’S professional league (LFP) has moved to show it is serious about tackling violence and abuse by vowing to report Real Madrid fans who sang insulting chants about Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and the Catalan club.

The referee did not mention the chants in his report on Real’s La Liga game at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday but Javier Tebas, the LFP president, said the LFP would refer the fans to the Spanish federation’s (RFEF) competition committee. Clubs, the soccer authorities and the government have pledged to crack down on violent and abusive fans known as “ultras” after a Deportivo La Coruna supporter was killed in apparently organised fighting near Atletico Madrid’s stadium late last month.

“Our qualitative step forward or new commitment is that if the referee does not hear it we will draw attention to it,” Tebas told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.

“There were insults and unacceptable chants at the Bernabeu, so I gave the order to report them,” he added. Real, who along with Barca and Espanyol are one of the few clubs who have tried to banish ultras from their stadium, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The European champions had identified 17 fans who took part in the abusive chanting and they had been banned for life, local media reported.

Tebas admitted that more should have been done sooner to banish ultras from stadiums and their surroundings.

“I made a mistake in not seeing this as a problem in football and I won’t make it again,” he told Cadena Ser.

“We have fattened up a monster which must be banished. We have taken this decision and we will continue down the same path.”

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