If the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) wants to be taken seriously, it must adopt a zero tolerance approach to racism.
The world soccer governing body president Sepp Blatter made the pronouncement after the Union of European Soccer Associations (UEFA) opened a disciplinary case against CSKA Moscow last week after Ivorian soccer player Yaya Toure complained of being racially abused by their fans while playing for Manchester City.
A new anti-racism resolution passed by FIFA last May means teams can now be forced to play matches behind closed doors as punishment for incidents of racism, with stiffer penalties in place for repeat offenders.
“In the first case, there should be a warning, in a second case, sanctions, disciplinary sanctions or to play without spectators,” said Blatter who has been FIFA’s president for the past 15 years. “But the third one is that you have to deduct points or expel a team from a competition.
“The FIFA Congress has said we have to go zero tolerance. The congress was standing and there was not one voice against that. Everybody wants it to happen. Now we have to apply it and have the courage to have to do it.”
Blatter said UEFA head Michel Platini believes that eliminating clubs for discriminatory behaviour is too harsh.
Meanwhile, new South African Soccer Association (SAFA) soccer president Danny Jordaan is backing Blatter’s call for a rethink over the number of places given to African and Asian teams at the World Cup, saying they should be increased at the expense of Europe and South America.
“It’s an important matter for debate,” said Jordaan, the 2010 World Cup head organizer who was elected to lead the SAFA last month. “Developing economies should have a lot of say which is why I am saying this matter must be fully researched and a proposal must be formulated.”
Blatter said African teams will struggle to win the World Cup because they are given so few places. There are five places at the World Cup for Africa compared to 13 for Europe.
South America and Europe will have up to 19 teams at next year’s World Cup in Brazil compared to a maximum 10 for Africa and Asia, yet South America and Europe have far less FIFA member countries combined than the other two federations.