UEFA has hit Real Madrid with a partial stadium closure just six days after the Spanish giants beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final, claiming the long-awaited La Decima triumph in the process.
The charge relates to Los Blancos' semi-final first-leg encounter on April 23, reported by UEFA:
Following the charge of racist behaviour by Real Madrid supporters during the match (Article 14 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations), the Control and Disciplinary Body has ordered the partial closure of the Santiago Bernabeu for one match.
Sectors 120 and 122 of the stadium will be closed and shall harness a "No to Racism" banner, per the aforementioned article. The measure comes as part of the European governing body's plans to meet any forms of racism with tougher punishments and a "zero-tolerance policy" toward "racism and discrimination, both on the pitch and in the stands."
Marco Ruiz of Marca reports Madrid plan to appeal the decision, as tweeted by ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan thanks to the translation of Spanish reporter Ruben Uria:
UEFA's decision means Real are likely to enter their first home-group fixture of the 2014-15 competition with a restricted crowd. This certainly isn't an ideal way to kick off their bid to become the first team to successfully defend the European crown in the Champions League era, but it's unlikely to have much of an impact on Real's ascension through the early stages.
UEFA has dealt out plenty of punishments in recent times for similar offences. Bayern saw the Allianz Arena capacity limited during their quarter-final second-leg tie with Manchester United after a homophobic banner was displayed against Arsenal, per talkSPORT. A fine of €10,000 was also issued, but there is no suggestion Madrid will face financial punishment in this latest incident.
CSKA Moscow were handed a similar partial stadium closure and €50,000 fine back in February, sanctions that aimed to reflect "the fact that CSKA have previous records of racist behaviour by supporters," per Sky Sports.
Racism continues to make headlines in Spain, where high-profile incidents have recently gained exposure. Dani Alves' famous banana-eating incident remains the most notorious, while monkey chanting toward Levante's Papakouli Diop also landed Atletico Madrid in trouble.
"I started to do the dance to take importance away (from the jeers)," said Diop, per The Associated Press and via USA Today. "That they call black players monkeys has to end."
It is worth noting UEFA has provided no specific details about the latest Real Madrid incident.
Real were involved in a racism scandal during April's Copa del Rey final showdown with Barcelona just days before Bayern arrived at the Bernabeu, per Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail. The chanting was dismissed as "four or five idiots giving everyone else a bad name" by local radio, which so often proves to be the case in circumstances like this.
While many supporters wish to see harsher punishments, UEFA aims to ensure only the perpetrators are reprimanded. The closing of specific sectors in the Bernabeu indicates the individuals involved have been located and opens future debate as to whether clubs should be held fully responsible for who they let into their stadiums.
Real are yet to issue a response but can be expected to do so soon.
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