Infantino says it is time for forfeits and criminalisation of racist fans after weekend incidents

January 22 – FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called for the implementation of an automatic forfeit of games for teams whose fans commit racist abuse.

AC Milan’s players, led by their French international goalkeeper Mike Maignon, stormed off the pitch at the weekend after Maignan reported hearing monkey noises coming from a section of the Udinese crowd.

Milan’s players eventually returned to secure a 3-2 victory in added time.

“They’re ignorant people…. You can be booed or whistled when you’re away from home, that’s normal, but what happened today has no place in football,” Maignan told Sky Sports.

“It’s not the first time it’s happened to me and I’m not the first person it’s happened to,” Maignan added in French on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We’ve had statements, publicity campaigns, protocols and nothing has changed. Today it’s a whole system that must take responsibility.”

Meanwhile,  Coventry City’s Kasey Palmer said he received similar abuse in the English Championship at Sheffield Wednesday.

Infantino said there should be harsher punishments.

“As well as the three-step process (match stopped, match re-stopped, match abandoned), we have to implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans have committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists,” Infantino charged in a FIFA post on X.

“The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable. The players affected by Saturday’s events have my undivided support.

“We need ALL the relevant stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society.”

In a strongly worded statement showing their support for Maignon, the French FA said it “totally condemns all racist acts” while France captain Kylian Mbappe also offered his backing to his international teammate.

“You are very far from being alone Mike Maignan, we are all with you,” wrote the Paris Saint-Germain star. “Still the same problems and still NO solution. Enough is enough.”

In Sheffield, Palmer labelled the abuse “abhorrent and wholly unacceptable”, with the match paused as the referee spoke to both managers on the touchline.

In a statement, Sheffield Wednesday said they were “shocked and saddened by the racist gesture from the stands” reported by Palmer.

“Both clubs roundly condemn any form of discrimination and abuse, and underline that there is no place for this kind of behaviour in football or our wider society,” it added.

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