Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, has advocated for the introduction of automatic forfeits for teams whose fans engage in racist abuse during matches. This proposal comes in the wake of incidents described by Infantino as “totally abhorrent” during games at Udinese and Sheffield Wednesday.
AC Milan’s victory at Udinese was briefly halted due to alleged racist abuse directed at Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan by home fans. Similarly, Coventry’s Kasey Palmer reported facing similar abuse at Hillsborough during a match against Sheffield Wednesday.
Infantino expressed his views on the matter through a post on X, stating the need for harsher punishments. He proposed the implementation of an automatic forfeit for teams whose fans are responsible for racist incidents leading to match abandonment. Additionally, he called for worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges against the perpetrators.
“FIFA and football show full solidarity to victims of racism and any form of discrimination. Once and for all: No to racism! No to any form of discrimination!” Infantino declared.
The incidents in Udine and Sheffield prompted strong condemnation from the FIFA president, emphasizing his unequivocal support for the affected players. Infantino urged all relevant stakeholders to take decisive action, starting with educational initiatives in schools to instill the understanding that racism has no place in football or society.
AC Milan’s players walked off the pitch briefly after Maignan reported hearing “monkey noises” from the crowd at the Stadio Friuli. Despite the disruption, the players returned, and Milan ultimately secured a 3-2 victory. Maignan called for meaningful actions to address the recurring issue of racism in football.
The incident involving Kasey Palmer led to a temporary stoppage in Coventry’s Championship win over Sheffield Wednesday. South Yorkshire police have initiated an investigation, and the club pledged to impose the “strictest possible sanctions” on anyone found culpable.
Infantino’s call for automatic forfeits aligns with the collective support expressed by various entities, including AC Milan, Inter Milan, and anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out. The latter emphasized that clubs, in addition to authorities, should face consequences if they cannot prevent such incidents. The charity welcomed FIFA’s push for stronger and more meaningful punishments to address the persistent problem of racism in football.