CRIME and punishment - surely even the most liberally-minded would hope they would go hand in hand.

But it’s not so in sport, even though it is about time it was, especially racism in football, which again erupted this week.

The mobile phone pictures of a black Parisian being pushed from a metro train in the French capital by racist-chanting, so-called Chelsea fans, were sickening.

Here’s someone in his own city waiting to get home from work being barred and then dumped off public transport by bigoted hoodlums, who were reportedly in the city for the Champions League game between Paris St Germain and Chelsea.

As the hapless black Frenchman was pitched off the train - not once, but twice to reinforce the offensive nature of the action - guttural Anglo-Saxon chants from inside the carriage of “we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” pervaded the air at the Richelieu-Drouot station.

The rancid, toxic charge of English-abroad racism again pierced and poisoned another European city.

What the perpetrators of the offence know and appreciate about decency and acceptable behaviour you could write on the back of a baby’s finger-nail and still have room to pen their names.

You would probably add to the outrage of that sentiment by saying their signatures must be an ‘X’ because they are so knuckle- headed.

But that would be so wrong. No doubt, those who ganged up to pick on one person of different race - yes, so very tough - are loved by their families, regarded well by their work-mates, respected by their peers, pay their taxes, do not litter and revel in being patriotically English.

To think that when racism slurs and snarls it is exclusively confined to the less intelligent among society is to fall into a trap.

Otherwise, how could you explain the rise of any nationalistic, fascist party? How, indeed, can you explain the popularity of Ukip?

And we all know that the Chelsea flag and favours pictured above could be replaced by a furling whirl of other club colours throughout England.

For football’s fraternity to shake its head and wring its hands to declare how racism is a societal problem is also missing the point.

Racism is not solely restricted to football. But it is the distinctly tribal nature of football that allows racism a convenient assembly position, an arena - or collection of arenas - for its scape-goating voice to bleat and blather and bloat in its vaporous venom.

Chelsea to their credit reacted in the swiftest manner to decry the footage that sent the behaviour of those who chanted in their name viral. The club said it would impose life bans on any of those found guilty who were season ticket-holders.

Declared a club statement: “Such behaviour is abhorrent and has no place in football or society.

“We will support any criminal action against those involved, and should evidence point to involvement of Chelsea season-ticket holders or members the club will take the strongest possible action against them, including banning orders.”

The upshot is that Chelsea may well be punished by UEFA, football’s governing European power.

And there lies one of the biggest problems. UEFA have been nought but useless in dealing with outbreaks of racism.

Each time the cancer of hateful behaviour has flared across Europe, all’s that’s been handed out as punishment are either fines or part ground closures, or shock horror, full ground closures, though that last action is very infrequent.

Such punitive action is as effective as a tap on the wrist, while to the actual challenge of combating racism it is effectively a Judas kiss on the cheek.

UEFA have clearly betrayed European football by their imposition of less than swingeing sanctions on those guilty, in many cases blatantly guilty, of racist offences.

A fine is sweet FA to many clubs.

A new sponsorship deal, a fresh influx of television rights money, an injection of cash from any other source, would cover such.

It seems strange that clubs have been routinely banned for hooliganism yet when it comes to racism there is a reluctance to apply such a stringent measure.

But now it’s high time UEFA’s lip service was replaced by a direct smack in the mouth of racists.

Expel them from the competitions in which they are playing and during which racism has erupted; ban the clubs from future competitions; or dock points which would ultimately affect domestic league status.

In that event, I am certain racist thugs might think twice about peddling the oratory of hate and if they then slink away from the game then at least football will have shown some balls - and not before time.