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  • Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • FIFA is leading football in the global fight against racism
  • Gianni Infantino: FIFA and football stand together

Every year on March 21, the world watches International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The date was chosen by the United Nations to commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre, which occurred 61 years ago today when police killed 69 people peacefully demonstrating against South Africa the passage of apartheid laws.

In South Africa and around the world, significant progress has been made in the decades since that shocking tragedy. But the theme of these years International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Youth Rising Against Racism, reflects anger and indignation especially among young people expressed in recent protests against racial injustice.

This sense of purpose is also seen in the world of football, with players all over the world kneeling to support and raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has spoken publicly to support them in doing so and reiterated that football and FIFA as the governing body of the Games must continue to lead the way in the fight against racism.

Today, and every day, FIFA and football stand united against racism, said the FIFA President. There is no room for racial discrimination in football or society. As the governing body of football worldwide, FIFA recognizes and embraces its responsibility to lead the fight against discrimination.

“This fight also relies on the implementation of measures by FIFA, continental confederations and FIFA 211 member associations at the national and local levels. As such, FIFA remains determined to work together with our stakeholders to eradicate racism.” indeed discrimination and violence of any kind, wherever it still exists. “

But what does leadership in the fight against discrimination look like in practice? Under Infantino, he has been an essential principle in implementing new measures to transform the organization.

Vision and strategy

  • FIFA project for the coming years – Introducing Truly Global Football: Vision 2020-2023 – includes two main pillars: Fight racism and all other forms of discrimination AND Protect human rights. The first includes a commitment to eradicate all forms of discrimination in football by implementing additional anti-discrimination policies, along with core and educational programs, to support member associations in addressing these issues.
  • In accordance with Article 4 of this law FIFA Statutes, FIFA ‘s core and ongoing measures to strengthen diversity and anti – discrimination focus on all characteristics of discrimination, including discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
  • FIFA Good Practice Guide on Diversity and Anti-Discrimination defines a five-pillar strategy: education, regulations, controls and sanctions, networking and engagement, and communications.

These five pillars form the basis for several ongoing FIFA measures to promote and promote anti-discrimination.

Activities and measures

  • FIFA Disciplinary Code: The principle of zero tolerance was updated in 2019. The Code clearly states that racism and discrimination have no place in football and that FIFA will not hesitate to address any form of discriminatory behavior. The scope, definition and content are fully harmonized with the highest international standards and the position of the Fare network (see Article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code)
  • Procedure with three steps: This procedure applies to all FIFA competitions and it is recommended that all FIFA member associations use it for their national competitions. Under this procedure, the referee has the authority to first stop the match and request a public notice requesting that the discriminatory conduct cease, suspend the match until the conduct stops after another warning notice, and finally, if the conduct still persists, decide to abandon the match. As a general rule, a match is automatically lost if the referee decides to abandon it after applying the three-step procedure for a discriminatory incident. Furthermore, FIFA has asked all member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies to introduce the three-step procedure in their internal competitions (see FIFA Circular 1682)
  • FIFA Anti-Discrimination Monitoring System: FIFA has implemented an anti-discrimination monitoring system to identify discriminatory behavior in FIFA competitions, including racist incidents. Risk assessments, special match reports and evidence provide a basis for the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in the event that it needs to open disciplinary proceedings.
  • Instructions for FIFA member associations: FIFA Good Practice Guide on Diversity and Anti-Discrimination supports all FIFA member associations to strengthen their activities to ensure a welcoming atmosphere without discrimination. FIFA helps member associations strengthen their approach to regulation, education, sanctions and controls, networking and engagement and communication, as well as helping them develop their respective action plans.
  • FIFA Diversity Award and campaigns: In 2016, FIFA created an annual award to recognize an excellent football organization, initiative or personality that excels in diversity and anti-discrimination in football at the national or international level and on a consistent basis.
  • Diversity and anti-discrimination training: This is undertaken for FIFA match officials, FIFA staff, other staff (such as administrators, food and beverage staff, etc.) and volunteers in FIFA competitions.

There have also been new efforts to strengthen and enhance these initiatives in response to discriminatory incidents and the global call to action around the Black Lives Matter movement.

Recent developments

  • FIFA is currently in the process of strengthening its comprehensive anti-discrimination program, which is a cornerstone of proactive governing bodies to promote equality in football.
  • FIFA supported the EU Commission to launch its new Anti-Racism Action Plan on 18 September 2020. FIFA has worked closely with the Commission on the topic of anti-discrimination and will continue to do so in the future. As well as helping to organize the event hosted by the European Commission, FIFA was represented by former Belgian striker and FIFA Legend Mbo Mpenza, who shared his experience of racism in Europe during a roundtable discussion.
  • In June 2020, amid outrage over the death of George Floyd, the combination of 40 FIFA Legends and current professional footballers, each wearing a black jersey, received the message #StopRacism, #StopViolence and #StopDiscrimination on social media .

The FIFA World Cup remains the main event of men’s football and, with the eyes of the worlds heading to Qatar next year, FIFA will seize the opportunity to focus on the fight against discrimination.

FIFA World Cup Measures

  • Adapted diversity and anti-discrimination training for each target group: match officers, security personnel (administrators, etc.), food and beverage personnel, hospitality personnel, volunteers.
  • Directing intercultural awareness and anti-discrimination for participants and attendees.
  • Raise awareness with participating member associations.
  • Grievance mechanism for participants and attendees.
  • Procedure for discriminatory incidents including reactive and proactive stadium notification and three-step procedure.
  • Anti-discrimination monitoring system with anti-discrimination match monitors in all matches.

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