FIFA President Gianni Infantino has vehemently called for stringent measures against racist abuse in football, proposing automatic forfeits for teams and worldwide stadium bans for fans involved.
This statement follows recent incidents in Italy and England, where AC Milan’s Mike Maignan was subjected to monkey chants, prompting a temporary halt in the game against Udinese. Infantino expressed his unwavering support for the affected players, emphasizing that discrimination has no place in football or society at large.
France, both as a team and through captain Kylian Mbappe, rallied behind Maignan, denouncing all forms of racist acts. Mbappe conveyed a strong message of solidarity, insisting on the need for effective solutions to eradicate racism. Infantino echoed this sentiment, urging comprehensive action that includes educational initiatives to address the root causes. He emphasized the implementation of an automatic forfeit for teams whose fans engage in racism, along with worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for offenders.
The call for action stems from persistent incidents of racism, with Maignan expressing frustration and emphasizing the urgent need for change. Referee Fabio Maresca briefly halted play during the Udinese match, but the game resumed after a five-minute pause. Maignan, addressing the recurring problem of racist abuse, stressed the collective responsibility to bring about change, citing the presence of cameras and existing sanctions as insufficient deterrents.
Recent instances of racist abuse include Lazio’s one-match stand closure due to monkey chants directed at Romelu Lukaku and Sheffield Wednesday fans subjecting Coventry midfielder Kasey Palmer to similar abuse. Palmer labeled the incidents as “abhorrent and wholly unacceptable,” prompting a pause in the match. Both clubs involved condemned any form of discrimination, promising strict sanctions in collaboration with relevant authorities.
Football personality Ian Wright applauded the solidarity displayed by the Milan side and advocated for teams to walk off the field when faced with abuse. Wright called for more severe sanctions, including points deductions, emphasizing the inadequacy of fines. Meanwhile, Palmer expressed skepticism about meaningful change, acknowledging racism’s disgraceful presence and its persistent challenges despite efforts to combat it.