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CoE rapporteur slams "racist" acts by football fans

STRASBOURG, March 18 (Xinhua) -- A senior Council of Europe politician condemned on Friday the "hateful, racist acts" against Roma women perpetrated by football supporters in a number of European cities this week.

Milena Santerini, the General Rapporteur against Racism and Intolerance for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), said that a number of racist acts had been committed against Roma women by football supporters in the streets of various European cities, including Madrid, Barcelona and Rome.

"They have been humiliated, taunted, even urinated upon by some supporters, as others watched on, cheering," she said. "These acts are demeaning and deny human dignity. They cannot be accepted," Santerini added.

In one incident, fans of Dutch team PSV Eindhoven were filmed taunting female Roma beggars in Madrid's Plaza Mayor and asking them to get down on their knees in exchange for money. The footage also showed fans singing anti-immigrant chants and burning banknotes in front of the women ahead of PSV's Champions League match against local team Atletico Madrid.

On Twitter, PSV director Toon Gerbrands described the fans' behavior as "outrageous". He added that the club would do everything to track down the offenders who could even face banning orders from the team's games in the future.

Santerini called on the football federations and clubs concerned to condemn in the strongest terms the behavior of the supporters.

"I also call on the authorities to investigate as a matter of urgency and prosecute to the full extent of the law any offences committed, and to ensure that any racist motivations are fully taken into account," she stated.

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