Racism in football is among the various elements bringing the beautiful game to disrepute. In England, John Terry was fined after evidence proved that he had racially abused Anthon Ferdinand, so also was Luis Suarez against Patrice Evra. But the story that made headlines around the world came when Milan’s Kevin- Prince Boateng led his team off in a friendly in protest at racism from supporters this January.
FIFA anti- racism Task Force which was formed in March reached a new proposal in a meeting held in Zurich on Monday. The new proposal could enforce referees to lead players from the pitch and points could be deducted from offending teams.
FIFA anti- racism task force proposed the attendance of officials to specifically ‘identify potential acts of discrimination’ at matches in the first meeting held by the newly created body yesterday.
Under the chairmanship of FIFA vice president Jeffery Webb, the task force also suggested the possibility of points deductions and/or relegation for ‘reoffenders or for serious incidents.’
A draft resolution of the Task Force’s proposals will be presented at a FIFA Congress in Mauritius on 30- 31 May whereupon member associations will vote on the measures.
“We have a special responsibility in the way we can impact football and society,” Webb said during his opening remarks.
“One of the opportunities this Task Force has is its vast reach throughout FIFA’s 209 member associations, where we can implement the resolutions in every region and every country where football is played, bringing universality to the mechanisms that combat racism and discrimination.”
The Ghanaian Kevin- Prince Boateng whose heroic act prompted support from the whole world on the need to eradicate racism from football, was one of the first names added to the makeup of the Task Force. Moreover, due to
playing commitment, he couldn’t attend Monday’s meeting.
“K-P Boateng and Jozy Altidore didn’t make today’s FIFA meet,” tweeted (@osasuo) Task Force member Osasu Obayiuwana, a Nigerian football journalist and a lawyer. “I hope they attend the next session. Views of active players are crucial.”
In their absence, the Task Force suggested that officials attend games to identify discriminatory acts ‘with the aim of easing the pressure on referees and facilitating the availability of evidence, which is not always easy to obtain.”
The second proposal could be more attractive for fans who have long argued that points deductions are more efficient punishment for clubs and national teams than paltry fines.
The Task Force suggested the application of sanctions in two stages, with the threat of ‘a warning, a fine or the playing of a match behind closed doors’ for ‘a first or minor offence.’
For more serious incidents and those who reoffended, the Task Force spoke of ‘points deductions, expulsion from a competition, or relegation.’
The third proposal from the new body was for the ‘need to implement the existing sanctions in a harmonised way across all confederations, member associations and leagues.’
FIFA president later on announced his satisfaction with the first inaugural meeting of the Task Force.
“Very happy with first Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination meeting.” He tweeted (@SeppBlatter), before later adding “We want strong and consistent sanctions at all levels of football for any discriminatory act.”
A second Task Force meeting is planned for later in the year to discuss how to educate stake holders in football in a manner which reduces discriminatory acts in the beautiful game.