FIFA head wants refs to end soccer games if racism persists

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks during the 29th AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, April 6, 2019. The Asian Football Confederation holds its presidential election on Saturday.

ZURICH (AP) — FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called for a crackdown on racism at soccer games after several high-profile incidents, and encouraged referees to abandon matches in the worst cases.

The head of world soccer's governing body says "we will not hesitate to do everything in our power to eradicate racism, and any other form of discrimination, from football, at any level and anywhere in the world."

In a statement on Saturday, Infantino says "we introduced the so-called 'three-step procedure' at our tournaments: a mechanism that allows referees to go as far as to abandon a match in case of discriminatory incidents."

Infantino says all member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies should "apply harsh sanctions for any such kind of behavior" and that "racism has no place in football, just as it has no place in society either."

Infantino's intervention comes one day after Amiens' French league game at Dijon was temporarily halted after the visiting side's captain Prince Gouano was subjected to racist insults.

"I heard monkey noises," said Gouano, who asked the referee to stop the game.

FIFA says it fully supports Gouano, as well as players such as Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose, who were also subjected to racist abuse.

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