Racism and discrimination affect society as a whole and football is no exception. The position of football’s world governing body, FIFA, on the issue is unequivocal: there is no place for racism or for any other form of discrimination in football.
In Russia, FIFA has been working closely with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) to ensure a discrimination-free environment for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in Moscow on 14 June this year. Staff dedicated to diversity and anti-discrimination will be present at the event to coordinate and monitor the implementation of a number of initiatives covering all forms of discrimination, including racism and homophobia.
Together with the Fare network, an organisation with a long track record of combatting discrimination in football, FIFA successfully implemented an Anti-Discrimination Monitoring System at the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, assessing all 871 matches and deploying trained observers at 177 matches with a higher risk of discriminatory incidents.
At each of the 64 matches of the FIFA World Cup finals, three anti-discrimination match observers who are experts in fan culture and forms of discriminatory behaviour will be present at the stadium. Their main task will be to support the security guards and facilitate the investigations of FIFA’s disciplinary bodies, especially by providing evidence of discriminatory incidents.
In addition, a new three-step procedure introduced at the FIFA Confederations Cup last year gives referees the authority to intervene in the event of discriminatory incidents. In the first step, the referee can decide to pause the match and request a public announcement to insist that the discriminatory behaviour cease. If it persists, he or she can then suspend play until the behaviour stops following another warning announcement and, if this has no effect, decide to abandon the match.
Prevention through education is also playing a vital role in the anti-discrimination strategy for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Special training on diversity and anti-discrimination is being given to staff, volunteers, stewards, referees and other match officials along with guidance and advice to the participating teams and their respective FIFA member associations. In addition, spectators will receive ample information in the ticket and spectator guides, the stadium code of conduct, and via stadium announcements, signage and videos.
Moreover, together with the Russian Federal Research and Methodological Centre for Tolerance, Psychology and Education, FIFA and the LOC have prepared school kits for teachers and educators that will be provided to all schools and universities in Russia with the support of the Russian Ministry of Education.
“The FIFA statutes are absolutely clear – racism and any other form of discrimination have no place in football. In recent years, we have expanded our strategy and made great strides to fight it in football globally and ensure that our events are free of discrimination and inclusive for all,” said FIFA Head of Sustainability & Diversity Federico Addiechi.