November 29 – Referees will have the power to stop matches if there are any obvious signs of racism by fans at next year’s World Cup, according to FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Russian football continues to be marked by incidents of black players being targeted from the stands but Infantino, who will take centre stage in Moscow at Friday’s draw, says officials will have the power to stop or even abandon matches.
Several players, including Brazil and former Zenit St Petersburg forward Hulk, have voiced concerns that racism could mar the tournament, saying such incidents are a regular feature of domestic league games in the country.
Infantino said in a video statement that his organisation would deal with offences firmly.
“We’ll make sure that no incidents will happen and… we have for the first time in a World Cup the so-called, three-step procedure where a referee can stop a game or even abandon a game if there are discriminatory or racist incidences,” he added.
“We will be very, very firm on that so we can expect fair play in Russia.”
Infantino is also playing up the likely use of video technology even though no decision on VARs can be taken until next spring’s meeting of the International FA Board.
“I think it is absolutely normal that in 2018 we can explore and see how we can help the referee and the team to take the right decision,” Infantino said.
“So video assistant refereeing is a topic which will be decided in March of next year but the experience so far has been extremely positive to help the referee not to commit big mistakes which obviously as a human being he can do.”
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