FIFA reveals anti-racism pledge, urges abuse to be mandated as offense

FIFA reveals anti-racism pledge, urges abuse to be mandated as offense

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GENEVA (AP) — FIFA will urge all 211 national federations to mandate racist abuse in soccer as a disciplinary offense, after months of consulting with victimized players including Vinicius Junior.

Soccer’s world body also suggests on Thursday “a global standard gesture for players to communicate racist incidents” to referees — hands crossed at the wrists and raised in the air — and for match forfeits to be a specific punishment.

A five-pillar pledge on tackling racism will be put to FIFA member federations on Friday at their annual meeting in Bangkok.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino promised months ago to make a worldwide proposal and has consulted with Brazil star Vinicius Junior, who is Black and has been repeatedly abused by fans in Spain while playing for Real Madrid.

“The time has come for football to unite to unequivocally commit as a global community to address the issue of racism in the game,” FIFA said in a letter to member federations.

FIFA also wants to create a panel of players who will “monitor and advise on the implementation of these actions around the world.”

Soccer has struggled for more than a decade to deal with racism in stadiums by agreeing and coordinating on-field responses by match officials and post-match disciplinary action by federations and competition organizers.

In some cases, investigations were dropped by soccer authorities because there was no evidence beyond a claim by the player alleging abuse.

Black players who claimed they were racially abused by opponents or fans and tried to leave the field have themselves been shown a yellow card for their actions.

FIFA wants the crossed hands gesture to be the recognized signal for referees to start a long-standing three-step process at a game where racial and discriminatory abuse is heard: To pause the play and broadcast warnings in the stadium, to take teams off the field, then abandon games.

That three-step process should be mandatory across all 211 federations, FIFA said on Thursday.

The crossed hands gesture was made on a medal podium at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 by United States athlete Raven Saunders who won silver in women’s shot put.

“It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” Saunders later said.

It led the International Olympic Committee to open a disciplinary investigation for a political statement made at a medal ceremony. The investigation was paused days later after Saunders’ mother died.


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