FIFA approves stricter sanctions for racism

By The Rainbow

AC Milan players Kevin Prince Boateng, left, and Mario Balotelli look toward the stands during a stoppage in play in a Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and AS Roma, at Milan’s San Siro Stadium.(AP Photo/Lapresse, Davide Spada)

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius¬† — Soccer teams face much tougher penalties for serious racist abuse, including being relegated or having points deducted.

FIFA approved sterner punishments at its annual congress Friday following recent problems in Italy and England. The new regulations say serious or repeat offenses by a club or its fans could also lead to a team being banned from a tournament, such as the Champions League.

The measures, which were passed by a 99 percent majority in a secret ballot of FIFA member countries, also dictate that players or officials found guilty of racist abuse in any game should be banned for at least five matches. The banned player or official will also be prevented from attending any soccer stadium during that sanction.

”We are doing something now,” FIFA President Sepp Blatter said following the vote.

AC Milan player Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the field during an exhibition game against a lower-tier team after abuse from fans, while an Italian league match between Milan and Roma was stopped because of racist chanting toward Milan’s black players from Roma fans.

That led FIFA to set up an anti-racism task force under Jeffrey Webb, a FIFA vice president and the president of CONCACAF, with a mandate to look at stricter sanctions.
After the resolution was passed by FIFA’s congress, it is now up to its 209 member countries to individually apply and enforce it.

UEFA has endorsed a tougher 10-match ban for racist abuse in matches in European competitions.