A quick Google search for racism in football yields scores of results from across the globe. Yet FIFA's own head of the anti-racism task force, Jeffrey Webb, stated that the incidents reported in the media are less than one percent of the total worldwide.
Some of the solutions implemented to combat this issue have ranged from fines, to banning players (see: Luis Suarez), to playing behind closed doors. In 2013, FIFA implemented harsher penalties, up to and including a five match stadium ban for offenders, and relegation for clubs. Yet, despite the threats, the issue persists. Clearly, current solutions are inadequate. Why?
Supporters and players who engage in racist antics might think they are gaining a competitive advantage over the opposing team. This line of thinking suggests that it is more about getting in the head of the opponent by any means necessary. Others are probably just racist.
FIFA should implement a solution that would not see fines levied. Fines are too easy to pay, especially when teams are spending mega millions in every area of the game. Instead, punishment should be simple, swift, and effective. For each instance, the FA of the league involved would simply deduct a point from the club's accumulated point total.
For more egregious acts, the FA would deduct three points. For further instances, the current match would be a 0-3 forfeit. Players engaging in racist acts should receive an automatic three match ban, and repeat offenses should be grounds for contract termination and expulsion from the game.
Why would this work? It would work because it removes any perceived advantage that could be gained through overt displays of racism. It also means that when players and supporters see that their actions have a direct, tangible impact on their club's title chase, relegation chances, or simply pulling one over on their rivals, they will stop. And because this solution would be implemented by FIFA, it would be binding across all FAs. The result of this is that a point deduction in Italy would send a strong message to an upcoming series of fixtures in Spain.
And it would take one guilty player to send the message such behavior will not be tolerated on the pitch.
There are likely to be those who would think this is too punitive, or too harsh a solution. But the actions being taken are not only a detriment to the world's greatest game, but are a blight on those who participate as fans or as players. No one should be subject to this, and it requires action that is sufficient to send the strongest, clearest message that this is not acceptable.
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