FIFA opens formal investigation into comments made by Tunisian national soccer team player

Article 30 of FIFA’s “Social Responsibility Program,” introduced in January 2012, outlines the organization’s plan to improve the handling of racism complaints and thereby “remove the cause of disputes.” The section — which is…

FIFA opens formal investigation into comments made by Tunisian national soccer team player

Article 30 of FIFA’s “Social Responsibility Program,” introduced in January 2012, outlines the organization’s plan to improve the handling of racism complaints and thereby “remove the cause of disputes.”

The section — which is about half the length of the program’s general sections — is also very detailed, with clauses about responding well to racist incidents before, during and after matches.

This is how FIFA defines the cause of disputes:

… When a person or a group is subjected to racist or other discriminatory treatment, such treatment causes or threatens harm and/or violence to the person affected. Such treatment inflicts injury on the individual, caused him or her grief or fear, put his or her life at risk, and in some cases, has a negative impact on his or her mental health.

The section on response to alleged racist incidents begins thus:

As we are in a world where similar or similar behaviour is unfortunately still “acceptable”, or… [e]ven encouraged, the spotlight still falls on the socio-political context in which the incident occurred. Particularly, the other fans and supporters of the opposition are most likely to be affected by the incident. Moreover, the victim himself or herself may be exposed to repugnant insults from the man-speakers who were there and those cheering at the match. Their behavior makes him or her feel he or she is a lesser person. Finally, the general conduct of fans, coaches, players and staff is a key factor, as well as in this particular case, that they quickly change their behavior after being notified of the situation.

Violence after a game is a secondary concern for the on-field teams, and here, it’s assumed that fans and other fans do not harass the players afterward. The section goes on to describe the evidence of potential racism that a referee or on-field officials may be confronted with, including video clips, photos and refereeing logs. It lists the expected response by teams in these instances: “When a situation is clearly and demonstrably racist, the affected team should be instructed to take positive action such as informing FIFA or Football Against Racism.”

In addition to asking the teams to contact FIFA or the local Soccer Aid committee, FIFA asks local officials to ensure that the team is physically capable of taking appropriate action. This goes on to explain the important role of “the victim,” who the program hopes will seek support from a member of FIFA’s Player Advisory Board.

A lone player may appear in the area of targeted fans, FIFA says, a member of the team may present images or video in the hope that the situation will be investigated.

“In extreme cases,” FIFA explains, “the (S)extension of the team to the incident scene, for example by making statements of their own, etc., can be advocated.”

This is all well and good, but when a racist incident does occur, there’s apparently still very little that FIFA can do to respond quickly to it. And with Friday’s racist incident involving Marion Motyka in the Singapore national team’s match against Yemen, it becomes clear just how difficult it is to do something about it.

Since 1995, FIFA has used a hotline on a random basis to reach out to players about alleged racist incidents. Meanwhile, Football Against Racism in Europe — the broader coalition group that works to combat racism in soccer — has more than 2,000 detailed complaints about racist behavior. According to FARE, of those, 92 percent have been addressed by FIFA.

All in all, little has changed in 20 years, in terms of the international soccer governing body’s treatment of racism. FIFA didn’t respond to a request for comment about Motyka’s case, but it appears that the World Cup winner of 1994 — and who is now deputy head of FIFA’s referees’ committee — isn’t happy with how the organization is handling issues like this.

Upon seeing the racist chants directed at Motyka on Friday, Thuram, like WBA’s youth coach Eddie Nketiah, is urging the young international to take a more active role in fighting racism in the sports world.

Read the full document (embedded below)

FIFA Social Responsibility Program, Section 5.1: Response to Racism and Discrimination (Article 30)

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