Dutch government invests €14m to fight racism in football

The issue has become a major talking point this season and the Dutch authorities are hoping to clamp down on it over the next three years

The Dutch government has made €14 million (£12m/$15m) available for investment in the fight against racism in football.

A new three-year plan to tackle discrimination in the game has been unveiled by the government and the Dutch Football Association (KNVB).

The issue of racism in football has come to the fore again this season following controversial incidents across Europe's top leagues.

In Netherlands, an incident in a second tier clash between Den Bosch and Excelsior dominated headlines in November as Ahmad Mendes Moreira was the target of racist abuse from the crowd.

That incident prompted the Dutch authorities to develop a new strategy to help eradicate the issue. 

The KNVB will implement 20 measures as part of the new plan that focuses on prevention, identification and enforcement.

"Clubs that have made insufficient efforts to combat discrimination may be faced with points deductions, fines or (partly) playing without an audience," the KNVB's plan says.

"Players may be faced with longer suspensions (from matches and training sessions) or exclusion from matches."

Meanwhile, offenders will be prosecuted more often than they have been in recent years, while two special prosecutors for racism will also be appointed in the Dutch game.

"The KNVB will also set up a special discrimination chamber within the disciplinary committee and the appeals committee," the plan says. 

"This puts the handling of discrimination cases for both professional and amateur football in the hands of specialists. The special prosecutor assesses incoming reports, conducts preliminary investigations and prepares disciplinary cases on discrimination." 

Special cameras will be used around stadiums to help identify perpetrators, while a mobile app allowing fans to anonymously report abuse in the stands will also be promoted.

The KNVB's director of amateur football, Jan Dirk van der Zee, says there will be a training program for clubs of all levels in the country, while he feels the governing body itself must become more diverse.

"We are not a reflection of society," he said. "We have to be. We must come across as more credible. That is not unimportant."

Dutch minister of sport Bruno Bruins added: "Our football belongs to everyone. That is the title of the campaign that we will be running in the coming three years. We request role models to help in the coming period, for everything that has to do with racism and discrimination."