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FIFA Proposes Global Measures to Combat Racism in Football

FIFA awards
"Reflections of trees in the letters of the Fifa logo, Zurich, Switzerland" by Ben Sutherland is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

FIFA will urge all 211 national federations to classify racist abuse in football as a disciplinary offence, aiming to create a unified approach to tackling racism.

The sport’s governing body suggests a global standard gesture for players to report racist incidents to referees: hands crossed at the wrists and raised in the air. Additionally, FIFA proposes match forfeits as a specific punishment for such offences.

A five-pillar pledge addressing racism will be presented to FIFA member federations at their annual meeting in Bangkok. FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who consulted with Brazil star Vinícius Júnior, emphasized the need for a united, global commitment to combat racism in the sport.

“The time has come for football to unite to unequivocally commit as a global community to address the issue of racism in the game,” FIFA stated in a letter to member federations.

FIFA also plans to create a panel of players to monitor and advise on the implementation of these actions worldwide. Despite efforts over the past decade, football has struggled to consistently manage racism in stadiums, both in on-field responses and post-match disciplinary actions. In some instances, investigations into racial abuse were dropped due to a lack of evidence beyond the player’s claim.

FIFA’s proposed crossed hands gesture will serve as the signal for referees to initiate a three-step process in response to racial abuse: pausing the game to broadcast warnings in the stadium, taking teams off the field, and potentially abandoning the game. This process is intended to be mandatory across all 211 federations.

The crossed hands gesture was notably used by U.S. athlete Raven Saunders at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Saunders, who won silver in women’s shotput, described it as symbolizing “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”

FIFA’s initiatives mark a significant step towards addressing racism in football, aiming to create a unified and effective global response to eradicate discriminatory abuse from the sport.