Soccer players' association wants harsher penalties for racial abusers in matches

England's players' union wants stiffer punishment for racial abuse in the wake of high-profile cases in the Premier League.

Such abuse should be considered "gross misconduct," and soccer authorities should have the option to fire players and terminate contracts, the Professionals Footballers' Association said Wednesday.

The PFA announced its proposals in an attempt to curtail plans for a breakaway black players' union.

High-profile players including Rio and Anton Ferdinand and Joleon Lescott refused to wear T-shirts for the anti-discrimination campaign Kick It Out in England last weekend because they perceived a lack of action in recent cases of racism.

The PFA also wants English soccer to adopt something similar to the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to at least interview, if not select, ethnic minorities for positions.

Since the Rooney Rule was introduced in 2003, the NFL has had an increase in black coaches.

Of the top 92 clubs in England, only four have black managers.

Other proposals included speeding up the "process of dealing with reported racist abuse with close monitoring of any incidents," and helping individuals or clubs who have committed an offense to enroll in an equality awareness program.