FIFA doubles punishment for racist incidents, adds language on gender, sexual orientation

Liz Roscher

FIFA is updating its disciplinary code, and it has made some important changes to show it’s taking incidents of racism seriously.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that FIFA is doubling the minimum ban for player incidents involving racism. The minimum ban is now 10 games, up from five. They will also soon be allowing victims of racist attacks to make impact statements at disciplinary hearings, and participate in the proceedings for the first time.

“Topics like racism and discrimination have been updated, putting FIFA at the forefront of the fight against this appalling attack on the fundamental human rights of individuals,” FIFA said in a statement. “FIFA will not let down victims of racist abuse.”

FIFA worked with Fare, a soccer-focused anti-discrimination organization, to add new language to its disciplinary code. For the first time, language prohibiting attacks on someone’s gender or sexual orientation is explicitly included in the regulations.

In addition to beefing up the minimum ban for players, FIFA is also adding new sanctions for teams whose fans resort to discriminatory chants. When this happens, at minimum a team will be forced to partially close its stadium and pay a fine of at least 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,192).

FIFA already has a three-step procedure for referees at games where there are discriminatory chants. When that procedure fails to stop the chants, the referee will abandon the game. But now there is clarification on game abandonment in these cases: a game that is abandoned by a referee is automatically forfeited by the fans’ team, and will go down as a 3-0 loss unless there are “exceptional circumstances.”

The regulations will take effect on July 15.

FIFA is beefing up punishments and sanctions for players and fans involved in racist incidents. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
FIFA is beefing up punishments and sanctions for players and fans involved in racist incidents. (Getty Images)

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