Deducting points can end terrace abuse

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During a season where the behaviour of footballers on the pitch has been deplorable, at Pride Park on Tuesday evening football supporters did their reputation an equal disservice.

Last month saw the death of Nottingham Forest owner Nigel Doughty, and last night an event just as tragic unfolded as Derby County fans goaded visiting supporters with distasteful chants concerning the former chairman.

'Where's your chairman now?' and 'You're going down with your chairman' were the classics a section of the Derby faithful unveiled during the Rams' 1-0 win over their bitter rivals.

An embarrassed Nigel Clough was forced to condemn his own fans who had committed the sin, and subsequently Derby have released an apology requesting information from supporters concerning the incident.

The Football Association are yet to act on the reports from the game, but if previous incidents have set any kind of precedent then a small fine, a brush and a heavy carpet will be swiftly employed.

FIFA, UEFA and The FA all have an alarming stance on supporter chanting with only fines accompanying illicit, racist or homophobic language. With such nondescript punishments, it's no wonder these type of incidents occur regularly.

What evidence is there that clubs are doing their very best to clamp out such behaviour? Urging fans to text anonymously reporting such incidents while also claiming both sides concerned are united against such behaviour strikes as poor return for tackling a major problem.

Fulham have recently introduced a state-of-the-art CCTV system which can immediately identify guilty supporters. Sadly, the club claim they are the only one's with such facilities.

Where the problem lies is with the seriousness clubs take these incidents because of the prospective punishment. In addition, football's governing bodies aren't treating these incidents with the severity they deserve. How do they expect these problems to subside if they don't issue substantial punishments to those found guilty?

Rio Ferdinand said upon the Croatian Football Association being fined £15,000 in 2008 after their fans racially abused England's players, that points deductions are the only way to deal with the problem.

"Croatia were fined a few thousand quid. What good is that going to do? That is not going to stop people shouting racist or homophobic abuse," he said.

"If things like this keep happening you have to take points off them. "Then the punters will realise the team is going to be punished.

"Sepp Blatter likes to speak up about things that are good for FIFA's image. I would love to see them stand up and dish out the right punishments for these incidents."

Ferdinand has hit the nail on the head. Not only will teams and associations be hit, but supporters will also be affected indirectly. Currently, if they're not discovered by flimsy security systems, they're unaffected, as their club take a minor financial rap.

Clubs will argue that taking points off a team for a non-footballing issue would be unfair, however if governing bodies truly want issues such as these to be eradicated then severe punishments must be introduced.

Furthermore, the authorities must also look at a strike system in which a series of breaches leads to a club being forced to play home games behind closed doors or even being thrown out of a competition.

There are financial implications for clubs introducing improved ways of catching the guilty parties but currently they are outweighed by the minor punishments they could receive which undermines the fight against prejudice.

Blatter has admitted such incidents do exist, however, if his policy to deal with issues such as racism on the pitch are anything to go by he's unlikely to demand a change to outlawing subsequent incidents in the stands. His grip on reality can't come soon enough.

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