'Racists warrant harsh penalty'

Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter says he will never tolerate any racist abuse of his charges.
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter says he will never tolerate any racist abuse of his charges.
Image: GALLO IMAGES

Stuart Baxter says he would follow his Bafana players off the pitch if they elected to abandon a game in response to racist abuse during a match.

Bafana star Bongani Zungu recently experienced the ugly spectre of racism in the game when his Amiens teammate Prince Gouano was racially abused during the French club's 0-0 draw against Dijon.

The match did continue till the end but it once again highlighted the ugly side of the beautiful game.

Baxter, who is likely to include Zungu in his Afcon squad in June, said he would back his players if they faced a similar situation.

"To start with, I cannot comprehend a society that condones that sort of thing," said Baxter.

"I'm not going to say it's a social problem. I think it is a football problem. What football does is polarise and it is very clannish. It is not only racial, it's also homophobic.

"I hate it. This is the human race, the only race I want is the race for the Afcon. I don't want to talk about that but when people are this badly behaved, then we have to talk about it."

Bafana will face 1992 and 2015 champions Ivory Coast and 1976 winners Morocco in Group D of the 2019 Afcon finals in Egypt.

Southern African neighbouring country Namibia make up the fourth team for Group D after last week's draw in Cairo for the competition that runs from June 21 to July 19.

Baxter said the failure to mete out harsh punishment to abusers at stadiums is one of the reasons football the world over has failed to stop the scourge of racism in the game.

"I think that punishment has to be greater," the Bafana coach said.

"I am not one of those who will say put them against the wall and flog them, I don't think that helps.

"But I certainly think that if someone does that in the name of Chelsea FC, for instance, and if he sees Chelsea having points taken away or playing behind closed doors, it will be a little more self-
managed."

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