FIFA LAUNCHES ANTI-DISCRIMINATION OBSERVER SCHEME

FIFA has launched an anti-discrimination observer scheme for international matches. The new system will identify, and send observers to, high-risk matches among the 900-plus qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. All 64 games at the finals will also be monitored. The system is being overseen by European anti-discrimination body FARE.

Manchester City's Yaya Touré attended the launch at Wembley on Tuesday 12th May and called for "radical sanctions" for countries with racist fans. "I have been in the situation where there have been monkey chants and it's difficult to deal with that," Touré said. "As sportsmen you want to continue to the end but when you hear something like that it hurts you and breaks you. You need to give them a radical sanction - paying a 20,000 fine is not enough; you need to do more."

Fifa's anti-discrimination monitoring service will cover high-risk matches among the 900 World Cup qualifiers as well as some friendlies. Trained monitors will report back to Fifa with their findings, enabling disciplinary action to be taken against offenders.

"Something has to be done," Touré said. "No messing. They have to understand that they need to change otherwise the sanction will be worse."

Jeffrey Webb, the Concacaf president who oversees the Fifa anti-racism taskforce set up in the wake of the storm over Sepp Blatter's insistence the problem could be solved with a handshake, was last summer critical of the time taken to set up the monitoring system.

The programme is being overseen by the European anti-discrimination body FARE, whose executive director, Piara Powar, said Russia needed urgently to improve its record.

"If there is evidence of discrimination this will be passed to Fifa and there will be associations who will be banned or play behind closed doors," said Powar. "There will be some pain as a result of this process but without that pain people will not really understand how they should be tackling these issues."

Howard Webb, the former World Cup final referee who is in charge of Premier League officials, also sits on the taskforce and said the introduction of independent observers would help remove some of the burden from match referees. "In the future that may evolve so that you have contact between the person in the stands and the officials," he said.

Under current rules, referees can ask for an announcement to be made asking for racist abuse to be stopped, then take players off the pitch and even abandon the match.

The Football Association director Heather Rabbatts, the chair of its inclusion advisory board, said England players would be given specific briefings on how to deal with racist abuse and the "chain of command" through which it should be reported.

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