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Fifa to hand out tougher punishments for racist incidents and financial disputes

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 11/07/2019 Matt Slater
Gianni Infantino wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Fifa has significantly updated its disciplinary code for the first time in 15 years, with major changes made to how it deals with discrimination and financial disputes, football's world governing body has announced.

The new code is also clearer and more concise, with the number of articles reduced from 147 to 72.

On the issue of racism, the international federation has consulted with pan-European anti-racism group the Fare network to bring Fifa's definitions of discrimination in line with "the highest international standards" and simplify what happens if a referee decides to abandon a game - as a general rule, the match will be automatically forfeited by the offending team.

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In a further change, victims of racism may also be allowed to make statements to Fifa's disciplinary committee, allowing them to be involved in the proceedings.

More generally, the disciplinary committee will now be the only Fifa body that deals with match-fixing allegations and it will also enforce any decisions or agreements reached by Fifa's dispute resolution chamber and players' status committee - the two bodies that deal with disputes between associations, clubs, coaches, players and other football stakeholders.

What underpins these changes is an increased desire by Fifa president Gianni Infantino to underline the federation's status as the global governing body.

So, for example, Fifa will now take the lead in enforcing any football decisions delivered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, it will impose transfer bans on debtor clubs and chase the "sporting successors" of debtors who try to avoid their financial responsibilities.

And in three other changes, which all come into force on July 15, Fifa will provide legal aid to "close the gap" between rich and poor involved in disciplinary proceedings, it will open some hearings - such as doping or match-fixing cases - up to the public and post all of its disciplinary judgements on a new website.

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