Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
IN a move that is meant to eradicate any form of discrimination in the game, Fifa has empowered referees to call off matches if they notice such vices during a match.
There has been growing concern the world over that the world football governing body was not doing enough to eradicate such vices, which include discrimination on account of race, skin colour, ethnicity, national or social origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, language, religion, political opinion and/or wealth.
In circular number 1682 released last month, Fifa secretary-general Fatma Samoura said based on Law 5 of the Laws of the Game, Fifa has used the three-step procedure for discriminatory incidents in its competitions since the Fifa Confederations Cup Russia 2017. “In accordance with the public call by the Fifa president, Fifa now urges all member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies to introduce the three-step procedure in their domestic competitions, to pursue a zero-tolerance policy towards racist and discriminatory incidents in football, and to severely punish such behaviour,” wrote Samoura. The three-step procedure allows referees, in the event of serious discriminatory incidents in the stadium, to:
1. Stop the match (followed by a stadium announcement with the necessary explanation and request for the discriminatory incident to stop)
2. Suspend the match by sending the players back to the changing room for an appropriate period of time (followed by a stadium announcement with the necessary explanation and request for the discriminatory incident to stop)
3. Abandon the match (followed by a stadium announcement with the necessary explanation and request to leave the stadium, in accordance with the instructions of the security personnel)
“As a general rule, a match is automatically forfeited if the referee decides to abandon it after having applied the three-step procedure for discriminatory incidents. For repeat offenders involved in racist or discriminatory incidents or if the circumstances of the case require it, the disciplinary measures now include the implementation of a prevention plan to foster education on diversity and fight discrimination in football,” noted Fifa. While Zimbabwe has generally not witnessed serious discriminatory behaviour in its local games, especially in direct reference to players, some songs that have been sung during football encounters involving rivals Dynamos and Highlanders have been a cause for concern as some have tribal undertones.