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Since the FIFA conference against racism in Buenos Aires in 2001, the football world governing body has been quiet on matters of racism.  However that all changed when in early 2006, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced tough new sanctions against racism.

Clubs or member associations whose fans are found guilty of racist abuse, can now be deducted points, relegated or expelled from competitions under the new regulations.  FIFA have ordered all its confederations and their member associations to incorporate the new penalties into their regulations, and have threatened to exclude associations from international football for up to two years if they fail to do so. 

The new rules should help unify the standard across the globe. No longer should we see the situation where, for instance EUFA seriously fines a club for an offence under its jurisdiction; whereas the same club can remain unpunished for repeated offences in its national league.

Additionally, the new rules will also apply to the amateur game. Whilst high-profile campaigns have brought tremendous improvements to the professional game in recent years, ethnic minorities playing in Europe’s amateur leagues have been subjected to some awful physical and verbal racist abuse.

“Recent events have demonstrated there is a need for concerted action and an urgency for more severe measures to be adopted in order to kick this evil out of the beautiful game. Now that the clubs and associations have an obligation to find a solution, they will find the solutions necessary to eliminate this plague.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter

Amendment to article 55 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code

Decision of the FIFA Executive Committee, meeting number 18, Zurich, 16 and 17 March 2006.

Par. 1: Anyone who publicly disparages, discriminates against or denigrates someone in a defamatory manner on account of face, colour, language, religion or ethnic origin, or perpetrates any other racist and/or contemptuous act, will be subject to match suspension for at least five matches at every level. Furthermore, a stadium ban and a fine of at least CHF 20,000 will be imposed on the perpetrator. If the perpetrator is an official, the fine will be at least CHF 30,000.

Par. 2: If spectators display banners bearing racist slogans, or are guilty of any other racist and/or contemptuous behaviour at a match, the appropriate body will impose a sanction of at least CHF 30,000 on the association or club that the spectators concerned support and force it to play its next official match without spectators. If the spectators cannot be identified as supporters of one or the other association or club, the host association or club will be sanctioned accordingly.

Par. 3: Any spectator who is guilty of any of the offences specified under par. 1 and/or 2 of this article will be banned from entering any stadium for at least two years.

Par. 4: If any player, association or club official or spectator perpetrates any kind of racist or contemptuous act as described by par. 1 and/or 2 of this article, three points will automatically be deducted from the team concerned, if identifiable, after the first offence. In the case of a second offence, six points will automatically be deducted, and for a further offence, the team will be relegated. In the case of matches without points, the team concerned, if identifiable, will be disqualified.

Par. 5: The confederations and associations are required to incorporate the provisions of this article in their statutes and to enforce the sanctions stipulated. If any association infringes this article, it will be excluded from international football for two years.

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