PORT LOUIS, Mauritius (Reuters) - FIFA adopted tough new measures in soccer’s fight against racism on Friday when delegates at its Congress approved their introduction by 204 votes to one.
The proposals, introduced by Jeffrey Webb, the CONCACAF president and chairman of the Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force, constitute a number of new sanctions.
They include the possibility of points deductions and expulsions from competitions or relegation, the introduction of anti-discriminatory officers at games, a minimum five-match ban against players guilty of racial abuse, tougher minimum financial penalties and the introduction of a hotline for players and fans to report incidents of racism.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter expressed surprise that one vote went against the proposals before dismissing it as an electronic voting error.
In his presidential address to the Congress earlier on Friday, Blatter said there was no longer any room for racism in football and it would not be tolerated.
“There have been some despicable offences this year that have cast a long shadow over football. I am speaking about the politics of hate - racism, ignorance, discrimination, intolerance and small-minded prejudice,” the Swiss said.
”That uncivilised immoral and destructive force that we all detest. We can send a strong message to the racists that their time is up.
Webb, a FIFA vice-president who has chaired the Task Force since it was established two months ago, said that racism and discrimination in society was mirrored in football but that the sport had to combat it as part of FIFA’s moral code.
“Our proposals show our intention to fight against racism in all its forms. For serious offenders or re-offenders, expulsion from a competition or relegation shall be applied,” he said.
”Furthermore any person, player, official or match official that commits a racist offence should face a ban of at least five matches with a stadium ban imposed by a FIFA disciplinary court.
”We have a special responsibility to rid racism from our sport. Yes, we have faced problems in our 109 years but we have faced every single challenge.
“In 1976, we stood up to apartheid and said no to apartheid, the racist system in South Africa. Now we will meet this challenge, and I ask you as the FIFA family to stand and say no to racism.”
Editing by John O'Brien