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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33525

League Specific 7/17/2019

RE: Recreational Adult

Andre of Toronto, Ontario Canada asks...

I am a convenor for a soccer league. I had a player make a racial comment to an Asian player on another team. He referred to him a couple of times as Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid which almost sparked a brawl. The player was eventually red carded for what he had said. However, I was wondering what is generally an appropriate suspension for someone who makes racial comments as this is the first time it has happened in our league. For a typical red card in our league, there is a one game suspension plus a $25 fine. Just wondering what the precedent is for suspensions in a recreational men's league for racial comments and if the suspension/fine should be increased based on the type of offence that was committed.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Andre
I can tell you that a player that is dismissed for racially abusing an opponent would, under my association's rules, be suspended for a minimum period of five (5) matches. In addition the player would be fined substantially along with his club and his club may also have to undertake a training course on Interculturalism.
A similar position exist in England where the Football Association also has a minimum ban of 5 games.
UEFA has sanctions include encouraging referees to stop, suspend or even abandon a game if racist incidents occur and the imposition of up to ten-match suspensions on any player or team official found guilty of racist conduct.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Andre ,
given the reactions and the fact a red card was eventually produced this is now a disciplinary issue and as outlined by my colleague & friend Ref McHugh appropriate steps are now to be taken. You be surprised by what one considers a funny innocuous remark can irritate or cause distress to another in a way unfelt by the aggressor , it is why courses on multiculturalism exist. I suspect a code of conduct for the entire league should be formulated to address such issues from the players coaches parents and fans about what is appropriate or not and the repercussions should you go against the grain.

Mr. Miyagi is actually a rather funny endearing Japanese character of wit & humor and if there was an actual resemblance I could see it being poked at. I have actually seen and heard it referenced in a friendly banter between Japanese and Caucasian friends with zero rancor. The competitive spirit however, should not tarnish itself seeking to win at any cost.

The intolerance for making fun of someone by disparaging their ethnicity is a touchy subject as it takes so little to spark racial biases. Cultural identity and what passes for racism nowadays the opposite person simply has to just feel offended. In such a case as this the very FIRST incident should have been a firm clamp down on the player for instigating a racially charged verbiage . The fact it continued and festered indicates it was not initially dealt with forcibly by either the referee or the coach. IF there was immediate sanction perhaps a yellow card for USB and a substitution with a verbal dressing down from referee & coach this could have been a one off incident

Its not just in what is said but if meant contemptuously and its desired effect to diminish another by instigating hate then we have a much bigger issue than an attempt to throw a person off their game.

No doubt VC violent conduct or foul & abusive language of a violent nature should NEVER go unchallenged especially if it is public & obvious. A RED card is the ONLY card that is acceptable in these cases!

It becomes a bit of a headache if the two involved are the only ones privy to what is said and it becomes he said she said. In the infamous Zidane headbutt he claimed it was in response to the Italian making disparaging remarks about sleeping with his mother. In effect get him angry, get him tossed! Referee ONLY saw the headbutt (actually the 4th official saw and reported it) no one ever heard the remarks.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Andre,
In almost every footballing jurisdiction as far as I am aware, a red card for using racially-tinged offensive, insulting or abusive remarks would always be more severely punished than just a 'normal' case of offensive, insulting or abusive language (OFFINABUS).

When you talk about a typical red card in your league being a one-game suspension, do you mean ANY red card - or just one involving OFFINABUS? In most areas, a typical red card (for example, for violent conduct or serious foul play) would be a minimum of 3 games.

Anyway, in the most high profile case of this nature I can remember in England, in 2012 former Chelsea and England defender John Terry was banned by the FA for four games and fined 220,000 pounds, for ''using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Queens Park Rangers' Anton Ferdinand and which included a reference to colour and/or race.'' The amount of the fine obviously reflects the greater financial means of a Premier League player.

I'm not sure that this is still the standard FA punishment for offensive remarks including a reference to race, it may well be longer now, given the greater sensitivity in this regard and the FA's increasingly high-profile campaigns against racism in recent years. So a ban of 5 games such as ref McHugh mentions, would not be out of the question.

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