Too little too late: The FIFA charge of fan racism against Russia

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ProBonoMatters has described FIFA’s move to charge the 2018 World Cup host, Russia, with fan racism as a “too little too late” gesture that fails to address the core of the problem. It’s a major concern given the fact that Russia is due to host the World Cup tournament in June and clearly there is unrelenting culture of racism in the country’s fan base.

FIFA charged Russia with fan racism after monkey chants, directed at French black players, including Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembele, were heard during the France vs Russia game in St. Petersburg last month. FIFA declared this week that its preliminary investigation warranted it to institute disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union.

ProBonoMatters’ said FIFA’s gesture continues the organisation’s tendency to paper over the cracks when dealing with issues of racism in football. FIFA lacks determination to root out the scourge of racism and other discrimination in and around the game of billions, said a ProBonoMatters’ spokesperson.

When this incident occurred last month ProBonoMatters asked why the officials in charge of the match did not implement FIFA’s three-step procedure of dealing with discriminatory incidents in a game. The three-step procedure is designed to work as follows when referees encounter discriminatory practices during a match:

Step 1

Referees will have the authority to pause the match and request a public announcement to insist that the discriminatory behaviour cease.

Step 2

If the discriminatory behaviour persists the referees can sanction another warning announcement for the behaviour to stop. They can now suspend the match until the behaviour stops.

Step 3

Finally, if the behaviour still persists, the referees can decide to abandon the match.

It’s a commendable system. But clearly the FIFA ecosystem is not ready to take strong action against the prevalence of racism and other discriminations in football, said ProBonoMatters.

We are also of the view that FIFA’s anti-discrimination initiatives come with gaps partly because they were informed by closed conversations between a few FIFA appointed individuals. The conversations lacked the required robustness.

info@probonomatters.co.za

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