FIFA threatens to call off football matches over homophobic chants
Football authority FIFA has threatened to abandon matches if fans continue to chant homophobic slurs.
Racist and homophobic slurs are still rife in football at an international level.
In recent years FIFA has attempted to tackle the issue with fines, with Argentina, Brazil and Mexico all facing fines for homophobic chants by fans at qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.
However, the fines have been criticised for making little impact. Mexico has been fined no less than eight times over homophobic chanting with no real change.
The size of the fine is also smaller than that handed out to the English football association after players flouted rules to wear Armistice Day poppies.
Ahead of the Confederations Cup in Russia this month, FIFA has boosted the severity of punishment for discriminatory behaviour.
Under the new procedure, referees will have the authority to pause the match, with a tannoy announcement warning fans against discriminatory language.
If it does not cease, the match can be suspended or even abandoned entirely.
FIFA will also put in place anti-discrimination observers at all matches of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017.
It said: “The anti-discrimination observers, meanwhile, are a natural continuation of the monitoring system that FIFA has put in place to monitor FIFA World Cup qualifiers and selected friendlies.
“The match observers will monitor the behaviour of fans from both teams, as well as any spectators who are not affiliated to a particular team playing in the match.
“Should any discriminatory incidents occur during a match, the evidence collected by the match observers will be forwarded to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for review and potential action.
“Furthermore, the match observers will support operational staff in resolving incidents of discrimination before and during the matches by being directly in touch with security personnel.”
Prior to matches, a video will be played on the big screens of the FIFA Confederations Cup stadiums featuring football legends conveying the anti-discrimination message.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “The work that has been carried out in FIFA World Cup qualifier matches in all confederations will now also be implemented for the first time in a FIFA tournament.
“Together with the possibility to apply the three-step procedure, these are ground-breaking changes in the global fight against discrimination that will mark the 2017 edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup.
“Both initiatives are extra tools for the referees and match officials to prevent discriminatory attitudes and ensure that the atmosphere in the stadium is one of fair play and respect.”
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko notably did not refer to the problem directly in the press statement.
He was quoted as saing: “We are pleased that Russia has been entrusted with the mission to become the first host country of the Confederations Cup and the World Cup to implement such initiatives with the aim of making world football better.
“This is a very honourable role and a big responsibility, and we are confident that the forthcoming Tournament of Champions will be held in an atmosphere of celebration and hospitality towards all guests and teams of the Confederations Cup.”