SPORTS LAW AT THE CROSSROADS

Zero tolerance. Infantino urges refs to abandon matches when racism occurs

April 15 – The recent resurgence of racism across world football has prompted FIFA president Gianni Infantino to call for a crackdown following several high-profile incidents, echoing UEFA’s call for referees to abandon matches in the worst-case scenarios

“We will not hesitate to do everything in our power to eradicate racism, and any other form of discrimination, from football, at any level and anywhere in the world,” Infantino said in a weekend statement.

Infantino referred to the “three-step procedure” applied by both FIFA and UEFA, a measure that was brought in at the 2017 Confederations Cup which allows a referee to stop a game, suspend it and ultimately abandon it altogether if racist abuse persists.

“FIFA urges all member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies to adopt the same procedure, as well as a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of racism in football, and to apply harsh sanctions for any such kind of behaviour,” Infantino said. “Racism has no place in football, just as it has no place in society either.”

Infantino’s intervention comes one day after Amiens’ French league game at Dijon was temporarily halted after the visiting side’s captain Prince Gouano was subjected to racist insults.

England defender Rose, meanwhile, went so far as to say he was looking forward to retiring from the game in the future because of ongoing racism and a lack of action from authorities.

Despite Infantino’s worthy intervention, it should be noted that FIFA controversially disbanded its anti-racism task force early in his presidency in 2016, saying it had “completely fulfilled its temporary mission.”

Whatever that temporary mission was, it doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect. In fact one could argue that its work is needed now more than at any time since Infantino came to power.

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