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FIFA unveils proposals for global approach to tackling racism

FIFA and its president Gianni Infantino, pictured, will present a new proposal for a united global stance on racism at Congress on Friday (Aaron Chown/PA)
FIFA and its president Gianni Infantino, pictured, will present a new proposal for a united global stance on racism at Congress on Friday (Aaron Chown/PA)

FIFA has unveiled efforts to ensure a more joined-up global approach to tackling racism, including the creation of a standard, crossed hands gesture players can use to communicate a racist incident.

The ‘Global Stand Against Racism’ proposal, which FIFA says is the result of extensive consultation with male and female players around the world, will be presented to all of its 211 national associations at Congress in Bangkok on Friday.

The first ‘pillar’ of the proposal calls for racism to be made a specific offence which is included in all associations’ disciplinary codes on a mandatory basis, and that those codes should provide for “specific and severe” sanctions, including match forfeits.

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior has repeatedly been the target of racist abuse
Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior has repeatedly been the target of racist abuse (Nick Potts/PA)

It calls on all associations to adopt the three-step procedure in the event of racist behaviour from spectators, under which matches are paused twice with warnings given for the behaviour to stop, and abandoned in the event of a further repeat.

FIFA also wants to introduce a “global standard gesture” players can use to signal that a racist offence has occurred by crossing their hands at the wrists.

It also calls for a push to have racism recognised as a criminal offence in all national jurisdictions, and to prosecute for severe sanctions in the countries where it is already an offence.

FIFA and its member associations will promote and develop educational tools in a bid to “provide a future free of racism” and a new players’ anti-racism panel will be established to monitor and advise on the progress of the overall initiative.

A circular to member associations stated: “The time has come for football to unite to unequivocally commit as a global community to address the issue of racism in the game.

“Football can be proud of the fact that it so often sets an example for the rest of society, showcasing what is possible when the world comes together for a common cause. It is now incumbent upon us to leverage this unique ability for this particularly important cause for us and for future generations.

Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett says football's sanctions for racist acts have been
Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett says football’s sanctions for racist acts have been “a joke” (Steven Paston/PA)

“Given players are so often the central victims of this heinous act, FIFA has over the course of recent months undergone an extensive consultation process with current and former players, male and female, from all over the globe, all of whom are passionate about making a change.”

The proposal was unanimously backed by the FIFA Council at its meeting on Wednesday.

Tony Burnett, the chief executive of Kick It Out, told the PA news agency last week that football’s response to sanctioning racism to date had been “a joke”.

“What I would like to see from FIFA is more punitive measures, the stuff that’s in their power to effect – ground closures, bans from competitions, player bans etc,” he said.

“I think it’s been a joke when you look at some of the sanctions: partial stadium closures for a game, closing a stand for a game.

“There should be a comprehensive approach, but it has to be strong enough to effect change.”

Kick It Out has been contacted for comment following the publication of the proposal.