Friday 17 May 2024, 10:30

FIFA Congress unites in support of strengthened anti-racism measures

  • FIFA President tells 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, “the colour of the jersey“ is the only thing that matters

  • Five action areas form basis of reinforced anti-racism measures to be applied across all 211 FIFA Member Associations

  • Congress delegates rise to feet as part of FIFA’s global stand against racism, leading players coaches and referees also supporting measures

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has announced a robust anti-racism programme based on five “pillars” that will be applied across all 211 FIFA Member Associations (MA), telling the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand: “We need to stand up and fight racism and defeat racism all together.”

FIFA Congress delegates rose as one and applauded after hearing Mr Infantino speak passionately about the need for a united front and five FIFA Legends had outlined the principles on which FIFA will build a sustained effort to rid football of racism.

“Racism is something terrible. It is a scourge that exists in our society. And is one also that is infiltrated in football. For too long we were not capable of dealing with it in an appropriate way,” said Mr Infantino. “We need to stand up and fight racism and defeat racism all together.

“We cannot accept any more what is happening in the stadiums, what is happening on the pitch, and those who still believe in the world – anywhere in the world – that they can still behave in a racist way when they are dealing with football, when they are attending a football game, when they are playing a game.

“Those who believe that, they must know that we don’t want them – we don’t want them. They have to go out, they have to be out, they don’t have to be part of our community, they don’t have to be part of football.”

FIFA Legends Emmanuel Adebayor and Iván Córdoba, United States Women’s National Team player Mia Fishel, Thai international Kanjana Sungngoen, and FIFA World Cup 2018™ winner and FIFA Legend Blaise Matuidi then took to the stage, each explaining one of the major tenets of the wide-ranging initiative.

There are five action areas: racism is to be made a specific offence with mandatory inclusion in the individual Disciplinary Codes of all 211 FIFA Member Associations, and given specific and severe sanctions, such as match forfeits; the introduction of a global standard gesture for players to communicate racist incidents and for referees to signal the implementation of the three-step procedure to halt, suspend and ultimately abandon matches; a push for racism to be recognised as a criminal offence in every country in the world and for appropriate punishments; the promotion of educational initiatives together with schools and governments; and the establishment of a new Players' Anti-Racism Panel composed of former players, who will monitor and advise on the implementation of these actions around the world.

“When I was playing it was tough. We all went through these moments and today, we can make a change,” added former Togo international forward Adebayor. “As some of my brothers, legends like, [Clarence] Seedorf, Samuel Eto’o, a lot of the players have been through it, and I’ve also been through it. Today, together, in this room, me being here I can assure you that it’s looking like it’s going to stop once and for all.”

Delegates were shown a video featuring a number of high-profile current and former players and football figures, such as former FIFA World Cup™ final referee and FIFA Referees Committee Chairman Pierluigi Collina, FIFA Women’s World Cup™ winner Briana Scurry, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development and former Arsenal FC manager Arsène Wenger, and England men’s national team captain Harry Kane, all making the cross-arm gesture that is being proposed globally to signal racist incidents during games. Mr Infantino said he had been contacting players around the world to solicit their opinions, advice and experiences in drawing up the new strategy.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, from which country, from the South Pole to the North Pole, from the East to the West – if you’re good you play, if not you don’t play, and the only thing, the only colour that matters, I said it before, is the colour of the jersey that the players are wearing. And so together with this panel of top, top players from all over the world, we have defined five pillars that we’ll implement, as of today, all over the world, in all 211 countries in order to defeat, once and for all, racism,” Mr Infantino concluded.

“Racism is darkness, and somebody much more wise and intelligent than me once said: “If you are in a dark room, don’t be afraid, just light a candle.”. Today, we don’t light a candle: we light a big fire that will shine all over the world.”

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