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FIFA votes to toughen its stance against racism

Updated: Friday, 31 May 2013 16:36 | Comments

Soccer's governing body bring in sanctions to deal with an "uncivilised, immoral and self-destructive force"
Soccer's governing body bring in sanctions to deal with an "uncivilised, immoral and self-destructive force"

FIFA has approved a series of reforms, including the adoption of strong anti-racism measures and the induction of Lydia Nsekera as the first female member of the world governing body's executive committee.

The 63rd FIFA Congress in Mauritius overwhelmingly approved a resolution that advises points deductions and even relegation for clubs involved in serious or repeated discriminatory behaviour, as well as a minimum five-game ban for individuals found guilty of racist offences.

So called 'minor' offences are to be punished with a warning, fine or a subsequent match being played behind closed doors, while the proposals also called for "a specialised official to be in the stadium to identify potential acts of racism or discrimination".

The resolution was overwhelmingly accepted by a majority of 99 per cent, though the fact that anyone in the conference hall would vote against the measures came as something of a surprise.

Meanwhile, Nsekera, the president of the Burundi Football Association, won the vote to become the first woman to win a four-year mandate on the governing body's powerful ExCo.

She won 95 votes, while fellow candidates Moya Dodd (70 votes) and Sonia Bien-Aime (38 votes) were co-opted to the ExCo for a one-year period.

"(We must) send a strong signal to the racists that their time is up" _ Sepp Blatter

Speaking ahead of the Congress' vote on the racism proposal, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: "We have been through a difficult time.

"It has been a test for the world of football and for those who lead it.

"There have been despicable events this year that have cast a long shadow over football and the rest of society.

"I am speaking of the politics of hate - racism, ignorance, discrimination, intolerance, small-minded prejudice.

"That uncivilised, immoral and self-destructive force that we all detest.

"(We must) send a strong signal to the racists that their time is up."

At the end of the meeting, the Swiss returned to centre stage to deliver his closing remarks.

He praised the delegates for their decisions but reminded them that positive action would be required to turn words into action.

Blatter, using an unconventional and extended metaphor that called to mind Eric Cantona to make his point, said: "It is not easy to change the route of a tanker, but we are a very elegant boat...not a tanker.

"We are able to get back to quiet waters and we are navigating the right way.

"In a boat you have to have a captain and the captains of this boat are you - the presidents of the national associations.

"You are the stakeholders of FIFA. You have the right and the obligation to take this boat into good waters."

Blatter also confonted one element of reform that was conspicuous by its absence.

Despite initially plans to vote on maximum age limits for senior FIFA officials, as well as a maximum number of terms in office, those matters were not voted up at this session.

Blatter, 77, said they would have been defeated and that their removal from the agenda kept the issue open for debate.

"We have just one problem to solve, age limits and duration of mandate," he said.

"We will tackle it and come back to it. If I would have brought it to a final vote today, it would have been defeated.

"Five of the six confederations were not happy, therefore we had to avoid it.

"To postpone it is to leave the door open and that means we have not finished with reform." 

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