FIFA adopts stricter punishments for racist behavior
May 31, 2013 -- Updated 1809 GMT (0209 HKT)
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said "despicable events" cast a "long shadow" on soccer this year.
- FIFA takes a tougher stance on racist behavior, as one punishment could be relegation
- Teams could also be thrown out of a tournament or deducted points
- Players face a minimum suspension of five games for committing a racist infraction
(CNN) -- FIFA approved tougher penalties for racist behavior, including possible relegation, in a move that one anti-racism organization said will bring soccer "in line" with other sports.
The sanctions, FIFA revealed at its congress in Mauritius on Friday, come in two stages. They were initiated at a time when incidents of racism continue to make headlines around the world and several months after FIFA set up an anti-racism task force.
Punishments for first offenses bring a warning, fine or clubs being forced to play games in empty stadiums. A second offense, or one deemed "serious," could result in demotion, a deduction of points or expulsion from a tournament.
Soccer's global governing body also said that any individual committing a racist infraction should be suspended for at least five matches.
It's now up to FIFA's member associations, who number more than 200, to implement the new punishments. Only one member -- it wasn't known which one -- voted against the measures.
"There have been despicable events this year that have cast a long shadow over football and the rest of society," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said. "I am speaking of the politics of hate -- racism, ignorance, discrimination, intolerance, small-minded prejudice, that uncivilized, immoral and self-destructive force that we all detest."
FIFA pass racism reforms
Soccer ref's daughter: 'He took my daddy'
Adorable boy kills it with soccer goal
Kevin-Prince Boateng of A.C. Milan walked off in protest when he was racially abused during a friendly in January, and Greece's football federation banned AEK Athens' Giorgos Katidis for five games in April and fined him for a Nazi-style goal celebration.
Kick It Out, the anti-racist body, welcomed Friday's development.
"It is something the organization has been campaigning on, and stricter punishments for discrimination more generally, for many years," chair Lord Herman Ouseley said on Kick It Out's Web site. "We hope to see the practical implications of this ruling.
"FIFA is setting an example to bring football in line with other sports which don't have problems around discrimination and unacceptable behavior."
Meanwhile, FIFA announced three women would take their place on the executive committee, which votes, for instance, on where the World Cup is held.
Part of complete coverage on
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
After a miserable Champions League defeat to Olympiakos, CNN's John Sinnott wonders if Manchester United is officially in trouble.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
CNN's David Ford analyzes the changing face of Manchester City since Barcelona's last visit to the English club 11 years ago.
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1449 GMT (2249 HKT)
A ruling that Polish fans will not face legal action after anti-Semitic chanting sparks debate over whether it signals acceptance of such attacks.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
If FIFA really cared about gay rights, why did it give the World Cup to a country where homosexuality is illegal, asks CNN's James Masters.
CNN's Alex Thomas takes a brave punt on the 2014 champion ahead of Friday's World Cup draw.
Today's five most popular stories