FIFA may have declared “mission accomplished” way too soon when it elected to disband its Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination in 2016, simply because the problem is still an issue. As noted by the Associated Press, Brazilian footballer and Tottenham Hotspur forward Richarlison de Andrade got hit with objects from the stands, including a banana and plastic cups, after he celebrated scoring in the 5-1 victory over Tunisia in front of its supporters during the match on Tuesday. FIFA president Gianni Infantino was also there to watch the game.
A banana thrown onto the pitch at Richarlison? In 2022? Where is the vitriol we had when he did kick-ups in a Premier League game? The complacency over racism in football is returning. pic.twitter.com/45LzgRgyXp
— Darren Lewis (@MirrorDarren) September 28, 2022
Before the game began, Brazil’s players had posed in front of a sign that read, “Without our black players, we wouldn’t have stars on our shirt.” The stars refer to the record five World Cup titles that Brazil has won. FIFA swiftly condemned the action via a statement on Wednesday.
“First and foremost, FIFA strongly rejects any form of racism and violence and has a very clear zero tolerance stance against such behavior in football.”
However, Richarlison wasn’t buying the conventional response from the governing body. “As long as it’s ‘blah blah blah’ and they don’t punish, it will continue like this, happening every day and everywhere. No time bro!” Richarlison said in a Twitter post after the match. Head of the Brazilian Football Confederation Ednaldo Rodrigues called for stricter measures to be in place on a global scale.
“We must always remember that we are all the same, no matter what color, race, or religion. Fighting racism is not a cause; it is a fundamental change to sweep this type of crime from the entire planet. I insist on saying that the punishments need to be more severe,” Rodrigues said.
FIFA has previously handed out punishments for racist rhetoric. Hungary was given a two-game spectator ban, and a $205,000 fine after England players were subjected to racist abuse during a World Cup qualifier in Budapest last September. Racism has also persisted among officials and fans. Just last week, the president of the Association of Spanish Agents, Pedro Bravo, compared the celebration of Real Madrid player Vinicius Jr “to the behavior of a monkey.” After England lost the Euro 2020 final, three Black players were barraged with racist social media posts.
There is a lot of anxiousness surrounding the World Cup in Qatar, which is due to start in a month and a half. How will FIFA stop racial abuse while the world is watching if they can’t now or are unwilling to hand out harsher penalties consistently? Executive director Piara Powar says international football has a big problem on its hands, but hints at some tactics they might use.
“There will be a lot of close monitoring of far-right and racist banners (in Qatar). They will be taken down within minutes,” Powar told The Associated Press. “There will be specific analysts in security boxes. There will be a lot of people watching out for these things.”