Blog: After Muntari: FAs must follow international rules09 May 2017

In2013UEFAadoptedananti-racismresolutionwhichincludedguidelinesforrefereestodealwithracistincidents.Matchofficialswereempoweredtostop,suspendandabandonmatchesasincidentsoccurred.TheregulationsfollowedtheKevinPrince-Boatengcaseandunderpinnedtherationalethatitisthejobofrefereestoprotectplayers.

The three-step guidelines mean that matches should first be stopped and a public warning given. “Second, the match will be suspended for a period of time. Third, and after coordination with security officers, the match will be abandoned if racist behaviour has not ceased. In such a case the responsible team forfeits the tie.”

Despite the rules, at a national level, where most incidents of discrimination take place, many football federations have ignored them and players continue to have their appeals of racism on the field and in disciplinary hearings dismissed.

In the four years since the Prince-Boateng case, Fare has registered 10 incidents – in addition to Muntari – where players have been booked for protesting against racism, or felt they had to walk off.

Often their appeals of racism were ignored by referees and football authorities. Some took direct action by gesticulating or responding to supporters and were banned. Many say that the incidents were the final straw in a long history of abuse.

An incident involving Frank Fabra on Saturday is a good example of the failure of the system. Fabra left the Argentinian Primera División match between Estudiantes and Boca Juniors in tears after being told by the referee that the racism he had faced had been an isolated incident. The Colombian international is an experienced player who has faced similar taunts in the past.

As in the Fabra case the emotional impact on players of being racially abused by large crowds is obvious to see in many incidents.

The incident list:

1 – Saturday Night (6 May) in the Argentine Primera División, during a fixture between Estudiantes and Boca Juniors, Colombian Frank Fabra left the pitch at the end of the game in tears after being racially abused throughout. His captain Fernando Gago can be seen asking the referee to stop the match during the game. After the final whistle he again approached the referee and his assistant asking why the match had not been stopped, the referee retorted that the incidents were isolated.

2 – On April 23 this year a Moroccan League match between Olympique Khouribga and Ittihad Tanger was interrupted as Ittihad defender Ousseynou Thioune left the pitch following an outbreak of racism by an ultras group towards him. He was persuaded back by his team-mates, but the referee gave him a yellow card for leaving the pitch.

3 – In February, FC Partizan Belgrade midfielder Everton Luiz was subjected to monkey chants at FK Rad. Although the match was stopped and a warning issued over the PA system, the abuse continued and the player abandoned the field distressed and in tears.

4 – In March 2016, a black player from Dutch fourth tier club VVOG faced monkey chants. The player and VVOG coach reported the incident to the referee, who gave the latter a red card. The incident came two months after the Dutch FA reiterated their policy to referees and agreed that they would accept player walk-offs.

5 – In the same year in Uruguay, during a Libertadores Cup match between Nacional and Palmeiras of Brazil, Gabriel Jesus was subjected to monkey gestures. The player reported the incident to the referee but the referee refused to stop the match.

6 – Also in 2016, Musa Boboucarr a striker for Glasgow non-league side St Roch asked to be substituted at half time following racist taunts. The referee had not heard the abuse because of disorder amongst fans during the match.

7 – In 2015 in Russia, Ufa midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong was subjected to monkey chants. Frimpong reacted by raising his middle finger towards his abusers. Match officials did not act on the racial slurs but the player was sent-off for reacting to the abuse. The Russian Football Union (RFU) disciplinary committee subsequently banned Frimpong for two matches. The incident was commented on by FIFA and the United Nations, who questioned the RFU decision to reject the player’s claims that he was subjected to monkey chants.

8 – Also in 2015, in Peru, Juan Aurich striker Luis Tejada kicked the ball into the stands and walked-off after 70 minutes over racism. Tejada was booked for kicking the ball away while some Cienciano players appealed to their own fans for restraint. Tejada refused to return.

9 – In 2014, Gabon midfielder Guelor Kanga was banned for three matches by the Russian Football Union for gesturing at fans he said racially abused him.

10 – Again in Russia, Christopher Samba was banned for two matches for displaying an “unpleasant gesture” to Torpedo fans after being seen to show his middle finger to supporters.

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