This week, the FA announced new rules to be put in place for when footballers are found guilty of racially abusing opponents and whilst this shows the FA are trying to clamp down on racism, the questions to be asked are why has it taken them so long to introduce this new disciplinary measure, and why is the ban significantly less than the ban UEFA proposed in April this year.
With racism in football steadily increasing in England, it would seem appropriate for the FA to enforce laws that imitate UEFA’s ten match ban for racist conduct, but instead, the FA impose a flexible rule where a minimum of five match bans will be given to footballers guilty of racism.
The FA have been under fire for conducting institutionalised racism for a number of years and their newly formed racism policy contains components that could allow the FA to use insitutionalised racism to discriminate against footballers. Using the term “minimum of five match bans” gives the FA a robust amount of power as it allows them to pick and choose how long they want to ban footballers for. In theory this seems like a good idea as some incidents will be more severe than others, but the reality is the FA will use this power to let the players they favour off lightly and punish others unfairly. A prime example of this would be Luis Suarez’s eight match ban vs John Terry’s four match ban. Both footballers were found guilty of committing overt racism and John Terry was even caught on camera, yet John Terry received a lighter punishment and there was no real justification given as to how judgement came to pass.
There is no doubt that this newly enforced rule is a step in the right direction as it demonstrates the FA’s “Zero Tolerance” towards racism policy, but it could just be a disguise to mask the FA’s failure to acknowledge the extent of racism in football. With over 25% of all professional footballers in England being black and with England being a country embracing multiculturalism, the FA should be setting an example for other organisations to follow. Instead, their anti racism legacy is full of empty PR stunts leaving fans all over the world questioning the FA’s real intentions. Racism in football exists because racism exists in society but the FA could at least try to be a little bit more convincing with the attempts to kick racism out of football.
The FA’s weak proposals are spoiling the beautiful game. Kick it Out.