FIFA Urges Soccer Bodies to Mandate Racism as an Offense

A long exposure shows FIFA's logo near its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
A long exposure shows FIFA's logo near its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
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FIFA Urges Soccer Bodies to Mandate Racism as an Offense

A long exposure shows FIFA's logo near its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
A long exposure shows FIFA's logo near its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

FIFA wants all 211 national federations to mandate racist abuse in soccer as a disciplinary offense, and designate a crossed hands gesture by victims to signal the abuse they get.

Soccer's world body detailed the tougher and more unified approach it wants to tackle racism on Thursday after months of consulting with victimized players including Real Madrid star Vinícius Júnior.

The crossed hands gesture was made on a medal podium at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 by United States athlete Raven Saunders who won silver in women’s shot put.

”It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” Saunders said in Tokyo, The AP reported.

FIFA is encouraging players to copy the gesture that led to Saunders facing a disciplinary investigation by the International Olympic Committee, which has rules prohibiting political statements at medal ceremonies.

Teams whose fans or players racially abuse opponents could soon face disciplinary punishments such as forfeiting games, typically as a 3-0 loss, as part of a five-pillar pledge on tackling discrimination. They will be put to FIFA member federations on Friday at their annual meeting in Bangkok.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino promised months ago to make a worldwide proposal and has consulted with Brazil star Vinicius Junior, who is Black and has been repeatedly abused by opposing fans in Spanish stadiums.

He broke down in tears at a news conference in March before Spain hosted Brazil in a friendly organized in fallout of the persistent abuse he has faced in his adopted home.

“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 said in a letter to member federations.

FIFA also wants to create a panel of players who will “monitor and advise on the implementation of these actions around the world.”

Soccer has struggled for more than a decade to deal with racism in stadiums by agreeing and coordinating on-field responses by match officials and post-match disciplinary action by federations and competition organizers.

Soccer leaders in countries such as Italy and Spain have consistently denied the sport has a racism problem.

In some cases, investigations were dropped by soccer authorities including UEFA because there was no evidence beyond a claim by the player alleging abuse.

Black players who claimed they were racially abused by opponents or fans and tried to leave the field have themselves been shown a yellow card for their actions.

FIFA wants the crossed hands gesture to be the recognized signal for referees to start a long-standing three-step process at a game where racial and discriminatory abuse is heard: To pause the play and broadcast warnings in the stadium, to take teams off the field, then abandon games.

That three-step process should be mandatory across all 211 federations, FIFA said on Thursday.

Saunders initially was in trouble with the IOC for making the gesture which also was a broader statement celebrating diversity. The IOC investigation was paused days later after Saunders' mother died.



Germany Looking to Book Spot in Euro 2024 Knockout Stage with Another Win against Hungary

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)
Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)
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Germany Looking to Book Spot in Euro 2024 Knockout Stage with Another Win against Hungary

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)
Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)

Germany faces Hungary on Wednesday in Stuttgart in their second Group A match. Germany tops the group after beating Scotland 5-1 in the opener while Hungary lost 3-1 against Switzerland. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. local time (1600 GMT). Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts:

— Victory for Germany would all but guarantee a spot in the knockout stages and it would definitely advance if Switzerland also beats Scotland in the other group match.

— Another defeat would not end Hungary’s chances as it could still claim one of the four best third-place spots up for grabs.

— Germany is winless in its last three meetings against Hungary and was beaten 1-0 in the last game between the two teams, in September 2022.

— Germany had to twice come from behind when the teams met in the group stage at the last European Championship. That was the teams’ first competitive meeting since the 1954 World Cup final, won 3-2 by West Germany.

Team news:

— Hungary coach Marco Rossi is hopeful French-born midfielder Loic Nego will have recovered to face Germany after he was only fit for a place on the bench against Switzerland.

— Germany has reported no injury concerns.

By the numbers:

— Germany’s five goals scored against Scotland leaves it just one short of its best-ever group stage tally at the European Championship, when it scored six at Euro 2020.

— Hungary midfielder Ádám Nagy, who turned 29 on Sunday, could make his eighth tournament appearance if he plays against Germany. That would be a new record for Hungary, breaking the joint mark Nagy holds with former captain Ádám Szalai.

— Germany’s victory over Scotland saw the team win its European Championship opener for a record-extending eighth time.

What they’re saying:

“Hungary is an unpleasant opponent, they can sometimes be wild and they’re difficult to get a hold of. There are a lot of free spirits out there” — Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann.

“We beat them (Germany) in 2022, so I’m sure it will be an extra motivation for them. They’ll be thinking: ‘Not again.’ But it’s clear from the first game that this Germany side is a completely proposition to what they were back then or even last year.” — Hungary forward Martin Ádám.

“On the pitch you felt how every single one of our players was annoyed that we conceded. That is a good sign. Scoring goals is nice, but we are thinking defensively and want to have stability at the back.” — Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.