Racism in soccer has been a constant issue since the 1970’s.
Mostly seen in the European leagues over the time, there have been reports of monkey chants and bananas thrown at black players, most recently suffered by Napoli player Kalidou Koulibaly by Inter Milan, and then at Arsenal.
Liverpool star Mohammed Salah has even suffered Islamic abuse.
Racism in the sport also ended the career of a young player in an amateur team in England, and, most recently, young Arsenal defender Jordi Osei-Tutu walked off of the field after suffering racial abuse on the pitch in a preseason friendly on-loan at 2.Bundesliga’s VFL Bochum.
FIFA is finally trying to fix its heavy racism issue.
Amongst the numerous rule changes coming to the sport this summer all across Europe with the European leagues starting next month, and in MLS in 2020, FIFA has updated its Disciplinary Code to address racist and discriminative behavior within the sport.
One of the biggest and most notable changes in the updated FIFA Disciplinary Code is giving the officials the right to abandon any game for any racist behavior by the fans towards the players.
Section 13 goes into how FIFA will handle discrimination going forward.
“Any person who offends the dignity or integrity of a country, a person or group of people through contemptuous, discriminatory or derogatory words or actions (by any means whatsoever) on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, language, religion, political opinion, wealth, birth or any other status or any other reason, shall be sanctioned with a suspension lasting at least ten matches or a specific period, or any other appropriate disciplinary measure,” the section begins.
Toward the end of the section, it adds that “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.”
Clubs guilty of racial and discriminatory abuse will first face a $20,000 fine. If it continues, the team could be forced to play matches behind closed doors, points deductions and the expulsion from a certain competition or even relegation.
FIFA’s goal by updating the Disciplinary Code for the first time in 15 years aims to “(put) FIFA at the forefront of the fight against this appalling attack on the fundamental human rights of individuals.”
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling stepped up in soccer’s fight against racism in April, saying that “if (players) walk off (the pitch), they win,” responding to racist chants he got during England’s 5-1 win in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.