FIFA Task Force outlines anti-racism fight

Sepp Blatter created FIFA's Task Force shortly after Kevin-Prince Boateng led Milan off the pitch in protest at racist abuse.

Story highlights

  • FIFA's new anti-racism Task Force meets for first time on Monday
  • Initial proposals include attendance of officials to monitor racism
  • Points deductions and enforced relegation also on the agenda

FIFA's anti-racism Task Force proposed the attendance of officials to specifically "identify potential acts of discrimination" at matches when the newly-created body first met on Monday.

Chaired by FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb, who presides over the continental CONCACAF body, the Task Force also suggested the possibility of points deductions and/or relegation for "reoffenders or for serious incidents".

The Task Force will present a draft resolution at the FIFA Congress in Mauritius at the end of the month whereupon member associations will vote on the measures.

"We have a special responsibility in the way we can impact football and society," said Webb during his opening remarks in Zurich.

"One of the opportunities this task force has is its vast reach throughout FIFA's 209 member associations, where we can implement the resolutions in every region and every country where football is played, bringing universality to the mechanisms that combat racism and discrimination."

The creation of the Task Force was announced in March after a series of racial incidents affecting the sport.

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In England, both Luiz Suarez and John Terry received bans for racial abuse in separate incidents that took place in 2011 but the story that made headlines around the world came when Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng led his team off in a friendly in protest at racism from supporters this January.

Boateng was swiftly invited by Blatter to FIFA headquarters and was one of the first names added to the makeup of the Task Force, but the Ghanaian did not attend Monday's meeting due to playing commitments.

"K-P Boateng and Jozy Altidore didn't make today's FIFA meet," tweeted Task Force member Osasu Obayiuwana, a football journalist and lawyer. "I hope they attend the next session. Views of active players are crucial."

In their absence, the Task Force suggested that officials attend games to identify discriminatory acts "with the aim of easing the pressure on referees and facilitating the availability of evidence, which is not always easy to obtain".

The second proposal is likely to be of more interest to fans, especially those who have long argued that points deductions are a more efficient punishment for clubs and national teams than paltry fines.

The Task Force suggested the application of sanctions in two stages, with the threat of "a warning, a fine or the playing of a match behind closed doors" for "a first or minor offence".

For more serious incidents and those who reoffended, the Task Force spoke of "points deductions, expulsion from a competition, or relegation".

The third proposal from the new body was for the "need to implement the existing sanctions in a harmonized way across all confederations, member associations and leagues".

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who courted controversy in 2011 when telling CNN that racism could be settled by a handshake after the match, announced his satisfaction with the inaugural meeting.

"Very happy with first Task Force Against Racism & Discrimination meeting," he tweeted, before later adding "We want strong & consistent sanctions at all levels of football for any discriminatory act."

A second Task Force meeting is planned for later in the year to discuss how to educate those in football in a manner which reduces discriminatory acts in the game.

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