Tougher stance on racism introduced by FIFA
Delegates at the 63rd FIFA Congress have voted to back FIFA’s resolution against racism and discrimination – enforcing new regulations and standardising punitive measures.
The resolution addresses discrimination and racism on three fronts: introducing action plans by competition organisers, presence of an anti-discrimination officer at matches, and enforcing stricter sanctions on offending parties.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter addressed 209 members regarding the new plans: “There have been despicable events this year that have cast a long shadow over football and the rest of society.”
He added: “With the newly formed task force, led by Jeffery Webb, and the tough resolution before you this week, we can send a strong signal to the racists that their time is up.”
This “tough resolution” includes a host of standardised sanctions against offending parties. A first (or minor) offence would lead to a warning, a fine, and/or the playing of a match behind closed doors.
For reoffenders, or serious incidents, sanctions may include points deductions, expulsion from a competition, or relegation. Furthermore, any person who commits an offence will be suspended for at least five matches, including a potential stadium ban.
FIFA’s action on racism in previous years has been inconsistent, at best. Mr Blatter even went so far as to declare “there is no racism” when prompted by CNN World Sport in 2011.
But countless high-profile incidents, including an abandoned friendly match at Pro Patria, have since shown the 77-year-old FIFA President to be frighteningly out of touch with reality.
Examples of FIFA’s indecision include fining the Serbian FA £65,000 for a series of incidents during the under-21 international against England in October 2012, while Denmark striker Niklas Bendtner was fined £80,000 for revealing his sponsor’s logo during Euro 2012.
Jeffery Webb, new head of FIFA’s anti-racism task force, heralded the decision as “defining”. Speaking to the congress, he said: “Our football family is fully aware that what is reported in the media is actually less than 1% of the incidents that happen around the world.”
“We’ve got to take action so that when we look to the next 20 or 50 years this will be the defining time that we took action against racism and discrimination.”