By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – FIFA has urged national football federations and leagues to adopt their own tough rules on dealing with racism, including allowing referees to stop or abandon matches.
Football’s global governing body issued a statement on Saturday in response to recent incidents in the game with president Gianni Infantino saying the cases were “sad”.
“This is really not acceptable. Racism has no place in football, just as it has no place in society either,” said Infantino.
FIFA has a “three-step procedure” for games under its control, a system which allows referees to stop and later abandon a match in case of discriminatory incidents.
“FIFA urges all member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies to adopt the same procedure, as well as a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of racism in football, and to apply harsh sanctions for any such kind of behaviour,” said the statement.
England’s Danny Rose and Raheem Sterling said they suffered racist abuse during England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro in March, while there have been other cases in English football in recent months.
Arsenal have launched an investigation after Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was allegedly racially abused by a supporter during their Europa League match on Thursday.
Anti-racism monitoring group FARE said earlier this month that Italy was suffering from an “epidemic” of racism inside stadiums.
England’s Rose also said recently that he could not wait to leave football because he had enough of the racism in the game and was frustrated by the response of the authorities to the abuse.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ian Chadband)