Soccer’s world governing body has adopted new measures meant to help combat racism around the sport. The move follows a number of incidents that drew international media attention in recent months.
The resolution introduced by Jeffrey Webb, the chairman of the FIFA's Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task force, at the world governing body's congress in Mauritius on Friday passed by a vote of 204 and just one against.
The sanctions adopted in the resolution include fines for a first or minor infraction by a team or the playing of games behind closed doors. The possible sanctions increase to point deductions, exclusion from a competition or relegation for more serious or repeat offences.
Players found guilty of racist behaviour are to receive suspensions of at least five matches, which would include a ban on the offender from even entering a soccer stadium.
"Our proposals show our intention to fight against racism in all its forms," said Webb, who is also the head of CONCACAF, which governs the sport in North and Central America as well as the Caribbean said. "We have a special responsibility to rid racism from our sport."
Long shadow over the beautiful game
Earlier in the day, FIFA President Sepp Blatter threw his support behind the proposals put forward by the Task Force, which had been established just two months ago.
"There have been some despicable offences this year that have cast a long shadow over football. I am speaking about the politics of hate - racism, ignorance, discrimination, intolerance and small-minded prejudice," Blatter said. "That uncivilized immoral and destructive force that we all detest.
"We can send a strong message to the racists that their time is up," he added.
Friday's resolution comes in response to a number of incidents of racism at football matches in recent months.
Ghana national team midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was subjected to crowd harassment back in January. The Berlin native stormed off the field after been subjected to racist chants from the stands during a friendly game between his club team, AC Milan and a lower tier Italian team.
Boateng was followed off the field by his teammates, forcing the game to be suspended.
pfd/ipj (AP, AFP)