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FIFA proposes five-pillar plan to combat racism

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FIFA has proposed a five-pillar plan to tackle racist abuse in football.

The sport’s world governing body said it had undergone an “extensive consultation process” with current and former players who “are passionate about making change.”

One of the plan’s proposals would see the introduction of a standard crossed-hands gesture for players to communicate racist incidents during matches.

The ‘Global Stand Against Racism’ proposal will be presented to FIFA’s 211 members at its annual congress in Bangkok on Thursday.

The first pillar of the proposal intends to make racism a specific offence which is included in all member associations’ disciplinary codes and has its own “specific and severe sanctions, including match forfeits”.

FIFA said it will “pause, suspend and abandon games in cases of racism.”

The crossed-hands gesture will be used by referees to signal an in-game procedure in which matches are paused twice and warnings are given, with the game to then be abandoned in the event of further racism.

In pillar three – ‘criminal charges’ – FIFA called for racism to be recognised as a criminal offence in every country, and said it would push for severe sanctions in the countries where it is already an offence.

FIFA also said it would promote education initiatives with schools and governments to “provide a future free of racism”, while an anti-racism panel made up of former players will be set up to review the progress of the proposal.

Earlier this year, Brazil and Real Madrid winger Vinicius Jr said he felt “less and less” like playing football because he had suffered repeated racist abuse.

Last year, a  FIFA report found almost 20,000 abusive social media posts were aimed at players, coaches and officials during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

And in 2021, England manager Gareth Southgate called the racist abuse aimed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after the Euro 2020 final “unforgivable”.

FIFA’s proposals have been criticised by anti-discrimination charity Kick it Out.

Chief executive Tony Burnett said the plans “lack detail” and asking players to “come up with solutions to tackle the issue is unfair.” (BBC)

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