Infantino: “Racism needs to end. Full stop.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called for everyone in football to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to racism and allow referees the power to abandon matches.

On Friday night, a match in Ligue 1 was stopped for several minutes after Amiens defender Prince Gouano suffered alleged racial abuse at Dijon.

A man was arrested after the incident, which led to 25-year-old Gouano asking for play to be stopped in the closing stages of the goalless draw.

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It followed on from Chelsea having denied three individuals entry to Thursday night’s Europa League win at Slavia Prague after they were identified as being involved in a social media video which included a racially abusive chant about Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp subsequently called for anyone who is involved in “disgusting” racist abuse to be banned from football for life.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have condemned racist abuse directed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly during their Europa League win at the Emirates Stadium and have launched an investigation to identify the individual. The Gunners say they will issue a life ban.

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Monkey chants had been aimed at England players during a Euro 2020 qualifier away to Montenegro, after which Tottenham defender Danny Rose said he was looking forward to retiring from a game which has done too little to tackle the problem.

England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, rejected calls for players who receive racial abuse to walk off the pitch as he continued to front up the continued fight.

FIFA president Infantino released a statement on Saturday in which he reflected on the recent problems and how the world governing body could help find a way forwards.

“In recent days, it has been very sad to see a number of racist incidents in football. This is really not acceptable. Racism has no place in football, just as it has no place in society either,” Infantino said.

“FIFA stands together with Prince Gouano, Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose, as well as any other player, coach, fan or participant in a football match who has suffered from racism, whether at the highest professional level or in a school playground. Racism needs to end. Full stop.

“We introduced the so-called ‘three-step procedure’ at our tournaments: a mechanism that allows referees to go as far as to abandon a match in case of discriminatory incidents.

Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly (right) (AP)

Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly (right) was in Europa League action against Arsenal (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

“FIFA urges all member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies to adopt the same procedure, as well as a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of racism in football, and to apply harsh sanctions for any such kind of behaviour.”

Infantino added: “We will continue to be at the forefront of the fight against racism and we guarantee to all our member associations that they have our full support in taking up this challenge.

“We will not hesitate to do everything in our power to eradicate racism, and any other form of discrimination, from football, at any level and anywhere in the world.”

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