FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called for teams to be forced to automatically forfeit a match if their supporters commit acts of racism and cause abandonments.
Infantino’s remarks came after high-profile incidents on Saturday involving AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan and Coventry City midfielder Kasey Palmer.
Maignan temporarily led the Milan side off during their Serie A match at Udinese, later alleging he had been targeted by “monkey noises” from fans behind his goal. Palmer alleged he was targeted by similar abuse from Sheffield Wednesday supporters during Coventry’s away match in the Championship.
“The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable,” Infantino said on Sunday. “There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination — both in football and in society. The players affected by Saturday’s events have my undivided support.
“We need all the relevant stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society.
“As well as the three-step process (match stopped, match re-stopped, match abandoned), we have to implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans have committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists.
“FIFA and football shows full solidarity to victims of racism and any form of discrimination. Once and for all: No to racism! No to any form of discrimination!”
FIFA introduced its three-step method in its competitions in 2017 and wrote a letter to all its member associations urging them to also implement the system two years later as part of the organisation’s “principle of zero tolerance” towards racism.
Speaking in May last year, Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo promised his organisation would use “technology and stadium microphones” to identify and punish racists.
“There are in stadiums, as in society, a percentage of racist people,” he added. “It’s a battle, like a tumour you have to systematically remove it even if it has recurrences.”
Milan’s players did resume the match after the stoppage in the first half and eventually won 3-2. Udinese eventually released a statement on Sunday morning, saying they “will collaborate with all investigating authorities to ensure immediate clarification of the incident”.
“This shouldn’t exist in the world of football but unfortunately for many years, this is a recurrence,” Maignan said. “We all have to react, we must do something because you can’t play like this.
“OK, we accept the boos because that’s how it is away from home but this issue of racism must not reach this level. With all the cameras present and sanctions for these things, something must be done to change things.”
Palmer was supported by both Coventry and Wednesday, with the latter promising any identified culprits at their Hillsborough Stadium would face the “strictest possible sanctions”.
“I’m black and proud and I am raising my three kids to be the exact same,” Palmer said. “I’ll be honest, it feels like things will never change, no matter how hard we try.
“Couple fans doing monkey chants don’t define a fanbase — I appreciate all the love and support I’ve received.”
(Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
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