World football's governing body, FIFA, announced on Thursday, July 11th, that its newly updated Disciplinary Code would fight against the scourge of racism and discrimination in football. They have stated that discrimination has no place in the sport.
However, racism and discrimination have been a feature in recent as well as past behaviour in football supporters, yet only a few instances have been noticed or officially recorded, and this has led to a call for action by FIFA to stop such unacceptable behaviour by football supporter around the world.
According to daily newspaper the Daily Mail “racism is widespread in English football with police having to deal with hundreds of incidents from the top of the game right down to grassroots level,” adding that their investigation in 2015 had revealed that Chelsea supporters have been involved in the highest number of reported racist incidents, as they travelled to and from matches on trains.
However, many footballers have condemned their supporters’ behaviour. Tottenham and England defender Danny Rose said “fines and fans not attending games is not working. Something else needs to be done. Something else needs to be looked at,” The Mirror newspaper reported.
The updated Disciplinary Code would expand the scope of what is considered discriminatory behaviour to anything related to "race, skin color, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, language, religion, political opinion, wealth, birth or any other status or any other reason." And it would apply only to official FIFA competitions, including the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.
"Unless there are exceptional circumstances, if a match is abandoned by the referee because of racist and/or discriminatory conduct, the match shall be declared forfeited," FIFA said in their new Disciplinary Code.
The measure can be applied after the referee has applied the "three-step procedure" for such incidents, which includes requesting a public announcement to call for any such behaviour to cease, suspending the match until it stops, and finally, abandoning the match altogether.
Earlier this year, Montenegro were ordered by European governing body UEFA to play a home game behind closed doors as punishment for racist chants by supporters during a Euro 2020 qualifier against England.