Thursday 08 February 2024, 14:20

Gianni Infantino calls on European member associations to work with FIFA in “united way” to stop racism

  • FIFA President tells 48th Ordinary UEFA Congress: “We have to stop this and we have to do whatever we can to stop this”

  • Mr Infantino wants collaboration on proposal to put to FIFA Congress in May

  • Current counter-measures and sanctions “not enough,” he tells delegates in Paris, France

Gianni Infantino has asked FIFA’s European Member Associations to work with FIFA to scale up the fight against racism in football in “a united way”, calling for collaboration on detailing enhanced counter-measures in a proposal to put before the FIFA Congress in May. Speaking at the 48th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Paris, France, Mr Infantino asked FIFA’s 55 European Member Associations to work closely with FIFA to draw up more robust measures that can be put to all 211 FIFA Member Associations at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, on 17 May. “We say that football unites the world, but our world is divided, our world is aggressive, and in the last few weeks and months, we have witnessed, unfortunately, a lot of racist incidents. This is not acceptable anymore. We have to stop this, and we have to do whatever we can to stop this. Racism is a crime. Racism is something terrible,” said the FIFA President. “What I suggest to you, in addition to all this, is that we work all together in the next three months before the FIFA Congress in May in Bangkok. And at the Congress in May in Bangkok, we come all together with a strong resolution, united, all together, all 211 countries of FIFA, for the fight against racism. Let's stop racism. Let's stop it now. Let's do it all together in a united way.”

The FIFA President reminded delegates that FIFA had already established a ‘three-step plan’ that empowers referees to take action if racist abuse occurs. Should an initial announcement calling for the racist behaviour to stop, referees can suspend the game and – if discriminatory acts or chanting are still observed, or are repeated – abandon the match completely. Mr Infantino noted, however, that such measures, which have been in place since 2018, have not swept the scourge of racism from the sport or society. He said football needed to present a united front to deal with the problem effectively.

“I can be standing here and saying this to you all, and you can be sitting there and nodding at me and saying, ‘Yes, that's right.’ And we will continue, and still racism goes on. We have to eradicate that, and we have some tools in place. “The problem is that we have different competition organisers, different competitions, different rules, and what we all do is, obviously, obviously, not enough. So, we have to take responsibility for this.”

FIFA has taken a number of other steps in a bid to raise awareness of the issue. The ‘No Discrimination’ campaign that was launched with the collaboration of national team captains and FIFA Legends at the FIFA World Cup 2022™ was expanded to include a broader range of issues at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™. The Social Media Protection Service (SMPS), also launched at the FIFA World Cup™ in Qatar two years ago, has been active in reducing the amount of online abuse suffered by players, technical staff, and match officials during FIFA tournaments.

FIFA also has long-standing working relationships with the FARE network and various United Nations agencies, collaborating on a number of initiatives in a bid to combat racism, but Mr Infantino wants the scope of FIFA and football’s fight to widen, and the punishments meted out to offenders stiffened.

“The disciplinary consequences will have to be a forfeit against the team who has been responsible for the abandonment of the game if a game has been abandoned,” he said. “We have to start criminal charges against those people who have acted in a racist way. We have to ban them from stadiums worldwide. We have to invest in education because, obviously, racism is also a problem of society. But that's not enough, that's not the answer.”