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New Fifa anti-racism measures: ‘a defining moment’

PRESIDENTIAL GREETING: Sepp Blatter presents a memento to Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam during the conference (PA)

FOOTBALL’S GLOBAL governing body Fifa has voted in favour of new tough powers which could see clubs expelled from tournaments and relegated from leagues if they found guilty of serious racism.

If judged to be first-time offenders or minor offences, teams will be given warnings, fines and ordered to ban fans from watching matches – but verdicts judged to be serious could result in point deductions, relegation and expulsion.

Fifa decided the vote at its congress in Mauritius; the anti-racism and discrimination rules were passed with a 99 per cent majority.

The organisation’s head of its anti-racism taskforce, Jeffrey Webb, said the vote result was “a defining moment”.

He told BBC Sport: “Our football family is fully aware that what is reported in the media is actually less than one per cent of the incidents that happen around the world.

“We've got to take action so that when we look to the next 20 or 50 years this will be the defining time that we took action against racism and discrimination.”

In regards to the one per cent of voters who were against the new measures, Webb added: “I would like to think it was a mistake but I'm glad it wasn't the other way. I'm glad only one per cent went that way.”


WALK OFF: Kevin Prince Boateng triggered change when he protested against suffering racist abuse during a game in Italy (PA)

Fifa president Sepp Blatter said: “We need zero tolerance and strict punishments everywhere. We must lead. We must set a tough, uncompromising example.

“We can make a difference. We can send a strong signal to the racists that their time is up.”

Included on the Fifa taskforce was AC Milan Kevin Prince Boateng, who earlier this year made a bold stand against racism when he walked off in a friendly match in Italy where opposition fans were racially abusing him.

The taskforce was soon created after the incident.

In England the FA has moved to create a standardised five-match ban for racism, which could rise to 10 games for repeat offenders.

Anti-racism activists in the sport have condemned the FA for not taking a hard enough stance against racist behaviour.

Earlier this month, Peter Herbert, a human rights barrister and campaigner for the sports equality initiative Race4Sport, said: “The FA Board despite its supposed commitment to combating racism has shown it has learnt nothing over the last two years and has once again failed even to meet the standards proposed by Uefa.”

Uefa, European football’s governing body, proposed a standard 10-game ban for racial abuse.

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