UEFA investigate Vieri race row

Last updated : 12 March 2003 By Martyn Elliott

The authorities decided to act after receiving an official complaint from Newcastle about an incident two minutes from the end of a game which saw Inter’s fans heap shame on their club by aiming racist abuse at Titus Bramble and Olivier Bernard.

A statement on UEFA’s official website confirmed the investigation.

"UEFA is to investigate allegations that Internazionale FC's Italian international striker, Christian Vieri, made racist remarks to Newcastle United FC's Lomana LuaLua during last night's UEFA Champions League match in Milan.

"European football's governing body said that Newcastle had made an official complaint to the UEFA delegate at the match, alleging that Vieri, who scored Inter's first goal in a 2-2 draw, had made comments to LuaLua two minutes before the end of the game.

"UEFA said that it would instigate disciplinary proceedings and investigate the alleged offence, and that a decision would most likely be taken on March 21, with any appeal dealt with on April 3 or 4."

There is no reason to distrust LuaLua’s word on this, so let’s hope they throw the book at both Vieri for his behaviour and Inter for the moronic behaviour of a section of their fans.

UEFA has a record of not handing out heavy punishments to clubs involved in such incidents, but the incidents occurred so close to the end of the recent anti-racism in football conference that they must surely take a stricter line this time.

We must hand some credit to the Newcastle officials who chose to act quickly in making the complaint rather than turning a blind eye to the problem – let’s hope that their reward is to see Vieri handed a lengthy ban.