Racism Will Kill Football

An open letter to Gianni Infantino - FIFA President, on why the increasing occurrence and severity of racism within the beautiful game will be its downfall.

Racism Will Kill Football

An open letter from to Gianni Infantino - President of FIFA.

To: Gianni Infantino

Subject: Racism will kill football

Dear Gianni,

The beautiful game. Played by millions. Watched by billions. The game we love to watch and play is becoming synonymous with racism.

Gianni, racism will kill football.

In light of the recent events during the European Championship qualifiers at Bulgaria, it is becoming increasingly apparent to society that there are no severe deterrents for racism within football.

How many more racist incidents would it take to wake up to the fact that FIFA is not doing enough to eliminate racism in football? A punishment of playing two matches behind closed doors (the second of which is suspended during a probationary period of 2 years) and a paltry fine €75,000 (£64,000) will not suffice.

In similar circumstances within the same competition, Croatia was only fined €80,000 (£68,000) by Uefa after fans directed racist abuse at Mario Balotelli.

Both the Bulgarian and Croatian fine by Uefa for racism are less than the €100,000 (£86,000) fine Nicklas Bendtner was handed by Uefa, for revealing bookmakers' logo, within the same competition.

Football's stance on racism is pretty clear. Despite what you say, eliminating racism from football isn't a priority for you.

Uefa is punishing a footballer for revelling a bookmakers logo more severely than it is for entire Countries, whose fans are displaying offensive and discriminatory behaviour.

FIFA 3 step procedure

A recent statement from you read:

"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."

Admittedly, you have introduced a 3 strike policy to the game, where the referee may stop the game for an announcement to be made in the stadium, urging spectators to cease the discriminatory behaviour. Should these instances reoccur, the referee can suspend the game. Further instances could result in the game being abandoned by the referee at the third occurrence.

A 3 strike policy to racism? If racism truly has no place in football and it needs to end, surely a zero-tolerance policy towards racist and discriminatory incidents in football and to severely punish such behaviour would be more appropriate?

You should be urging all FIFA member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies to be introducing tougher sanctions to racist incidents occurring in the beautiful game.

"Racism has no place in football, just as it has no place in society either." Gianni Infantino, FIFA President

Gianni, it's time for you to take action and introduce zero-tolerance policies to combat racism. It should be clear to you that the current punishments are not severe enough to discourage racism from the game. It's why racist incidents have seemingly continued to reoccur for decades on end.

If you're serious about eliminating racism in football, you should introduce severe punishments for foul behaviour; punitive fines, playing a year of games behind closed doors or being forced to play all games away from home for a year, points deductions, expulsion from competitions. You should also urge your member associations to introduce the same measures within their competitions.

Should racism become more prevalent in the beautiful game, I fear we will reach a point where the damage is irreversible.

Gianni, racism will kill football.

If you don't eliminate racism from football, the beautiful game, major sponsors will, slowly, over time, terminate their sponsorship with football. Although this change may be slow initially, it is inevitable.

Large corporations are beginning to realise the importance of inclusion and diversity to their future success — a vital ingredient to remaining competitive in an increasingly dynamic corporate environment. Supporting or being associated with a sport where racism is prevalent is not in keeping with their agendas, tarnishing their reputations. Over time, these key sponsors will terminate their sponsorship with football.

Gianni, let me remind you again. Racism will kill football.

Fans like me are starting to take matters into their own hands. We're turning off games, where there is a display of racist or discriminatory behaviour. If we happen to be in the stadium, we're walking out. It could be the world cup final or the champions league final, with our favourite team our country playing, we're true to our values. Fighting racism is more important than a few minutes of watching a group of young men kicking a ball around a field.

The more we have to stop watching a game due to racist incidents, the less football we watch. With less attention on football, sponsors become less interested.

We have also stopped consuming the products or services of the key FIFA sponsors. We are voting with our pockets, making it less profitable for your sponsors to continue supporting football.

The problem for the beautiful game is that people like me are growing in numbers. People who stand together in having a zero-tolerance to approach to racism and discriminatory behaviour within football. More of us are turning into equally exciting sports, such as rugby. We're taking matters into their own hands and voting with our attention.

Eventually, Joma may stop kitting out Bulgaria, Barclays may stop sponsoring the premier league or Sky may stop broadcasting football. Their partnership with the beautiful game no longer being in line with their strategic corporate objectives. Viewer numbers dropping. Is it then that you begin taking notice? By then, I fear it may be too late - the damage irreversible.

A group chaired by Jamie Dimon - CEO of JP Morgan and a host of other leading American executives have concluded that pursuit of shareholder interests is no longer the central purpose of corporate America. Companies should be placing primary focus on social responsibilities (such as those of employees, environment, customers, society at large, in addition to that of shareholders).

"An economy that serves all Americans". The future of capitalism.

Even though sponsoring football may be profitable, the ethical company doesn't condone racism and rejects all affiliation with a sport that has proven unable to eliminate racism from the game— registering a decline in football's sponsorship income.

Gianni you see, racism will kill football.

The beautiful game we know and love is to become the beautiful game we once knew and loved. The damage - irreversible.

Gianni, so what are you going to do about it?


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