Sepp Blatter has called for FIFA to establish harsher punishments for teams whose fans are found guilty of racism.
At the Football Association’s 150th anniversary gala in London, Blatter declared, “It has been decided by the FIFA congress that it is a nonsense for racism to be dealt with with fines – you can always find money from somebody to pay them. It is a nonsense to have matches played without spectators because it is against the spirit of football and against the visiting team. It is all nonsense.”
So what does he propose?
“What we shall do is be very tough – we need to eliminate teams from a competition or deduct points,” Blatter said. “Only by such decisions is it possible to go against racism and discrimination. If we don’t do that it will go on and go on. We have to stop it – we need the courage to do it.”
Point deductions and forced relegation or disqualification is serious stuff. Blatter’s stance is a strong one, but also carries a sprinkle of policy reversal.
He was against these punishments back in April, revealing some concern that it would encourage fans to attend rival teams’ matches and stir up trouble.
However, it’s good to see FIFA at least discussion harsh punishments for racial abuse of players – although actions are still somewhat lacking.
To be fair, an appropriate punishment is almost impossible to devise. Often only pockets of fans are responsible, and punishing an entire fanbase for the actions of a small few can garner criticism.
Blatter told the FA gala that racism is the “villian” in the game today, and only harsh sanctions will be able to stamp it out of the sport completely.