It's called the beautiful game but every so often, the game of soccer is tainted by ugly incidents of racism.
We've done posts about a couple of examples this past year. One where Greek soccer player Giorgos Katidis scored a game winning goal and gave what appears to be a Nazi salute (shown above).
Another where Italian soccer star Kevin-Prince Boateng (left) walked off the field in the middle of a game to protest against racist chants from the crowd.
Well today, FIFA - soccer's world governing body - brought in new rules designed to deal with racism in the game.
Under the plan, teams that have serious or repeat incidents of racism could have points taken away, be relegated to a lower level, or be kicked out of competitions.
Other measures include:
- a minimum 5-match suspension for players guilty of racial abuse
- anti-discriminatory officers at games to identify potential acts of racism and ease the pressure on the referee
- tougher minimum fines
- the introduction of a hotline for players and fans to report racism
The new rules are standard for all FIFA members, which means individual federations will no longer hand out their own punishments.
FIFA officials passed the proposals with a 99% majority - 204 votes to one. That one 'no' vote was later dismissed as an electronic voting error.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left) said racism has no place in soccer and will not be tolerated.
"There have been some despicable offenses this year that have cast a long shadow over football. I am speaking about the politics of hate - racism, ignorance, discrimination, intolerance and small-minded prejudice," Blatter said.
"That uncivilized immoral and destructive force that we all detest. We need zero tolerance and strict punishments everywhere. We must lead. We must set a tough, uncompromising example."
"We can make a difference. We can send a strong signal to the racists that their time is up," he said.
Jeffrey Webb, head of FIFA's anti-racism task force, said the vote was "a defining moment".
He added: "Our football family is fully aware that what is reported in the media is actually less than 1% of the incidents that happen around the world.
"We've got to take action so that when we look to the next 20 or 50 years this will be the defining time that we took action against racism and discrimination."
"We have a special responsibility to rid racism from our sport. Yes, we have faced problems in our 109 years but we have faced every single challenge," Webb said.
Italian stars Kevin-Prince Boateng and Mario Balotelli as soccer match is stopped because of racist chants by fans
The task force was set up two months ago, after Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the field. It's worth noting he was part of the task force.
Former England striker Luther Blissett, who works with the charity 'Show Racism The Red Card', spoke to the BBC.
"You've got to applaud them for doing something about it, my thing is when they talk about the 'level' of racism," he said. "To me, racism is racism.
"FIFA have to let it be known where they are going to start this from. Any form of racism is serious enough for the bans to start, they should hit people hard straight away."
via GMA News