FIFA 'Cracks Down' on Racist Behavior
Introduces tougher penalties on clubs
Email Article  Print Article Amin George Forji (amingeorge)    
FIFA, the football world's governing body, concerned that financial sanctions have not been working to eliminate racism, has opted for tougher penalties, in what it calls a "crackdown."

On Thursday, the body outlined a new framework of sanctions for offending clubs and countries that fail to prevent their supporters from abusing opposing players on racial grounds. Under the new framework, all affiliated national federations and associations must adopt the rules.

The measures were unveiled by FIFA president Sepp Blatter. According to the new regulations, national associations will have to dock three points from clubs for a first offense, six points for a second, and then threaten the ultimate sanction of relegation in case of further offenses.

The last measure is particularly noteworthy. All affiliated national bodies, along with confederations, are being compelled by the regulations to introduce the measures, and any infringement could be punished by exclusion from international soccer for a period of two years.

Blatter also said that national associations would be receiving details of the new measures as early as Monday and will be expected to introduce them into their own statutes without delay.

"I can tell you the new rules for racism are immediately applicable," Blatter said, as he made the release. "From now on they are valid, so it's the end of non-compliance with what our society is asking football to do."

This means that the rules will be implemented during World Cup play in June. In fact, Blatter, while answering questions, said the Disciplinary Committee now has the instrument "and they have to apply it. Now we have given them the instrument and regulations to deal with this problem."

He added that the rules have long been overdue, mainly because there was no means of implementation.

The English FA has been unhappy with the FIFA since English black stars were abused in Spain in 2004 during a friendly match between the two countries. For more than two years now, the abuse of black players has seriously escalated in some major European leagues, especially in Spain and Italy.

In Italy's Seria A, for example, Messina's Ivory Coast defender Mark Zoro, in December 2005, was reduced to tears and threatened to leave the pitch after being targeted for racist abuse by visiting Inter Milan fans.

In Spain, Cameroon and Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o also threatened to walk off the field after being abused by Real Zaragoza during a Primera Liga match against Barcelona. Real Zaragoza supporters throughout the match kept making racist taunts each time he touched the ball.

It was a repeat of the treatment they gave him during the previous season. The Spanish federation later gave them a minimal sanction of 600 euros. This year they fined the team 9,000 euros (US$10,980), which was significantly larger than the previous fine. But Eto'o characterized the decision of the disciplinary committee as "ridiculous."

"It pains me to see yet another incident of racist behavior. To be frank, it is time to get tough," he said, adding that a one-year ground closure, rather than a fine, would have been an appropriate sanction.

Anti-racism campaigners have been quick to welcome the new FIFA regulations. Piara Powar, director of the Kick It Out campaign, said this about the rules:
"It is important that they are sporting sanctions rather than fines, which clubs have the means to pay. We welcome the positive regulations, as there have been too many football associations in Europe that have been fudging the issue. We believe there will be an instant impact. The new regulations will not bring an end to racism - that will come from education and changing hearts and minds - but it is a step in the right direction. The new FIFA stand is a very laudable move, but as to how such a system would work in practice would need careful thought."

2006/03/18 오후 2:54
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