ZURICH – The world football players’ union FIFPRO said it will support players or teams who walk off the pitch due to racism, after the abuse suffered by FC Porto forward Moussa Marega during a Portuguese league match on Sunday.
The Mali forward was subject to abuse throughout his team’s 2-1 win at Vitoria Guimaraes and was eventually substituted, shortly after his team mates restrained him when he tried to walk off the pitch in protest.
Marega had scored the decisive on goal on the hour and pointed to his skin, earning him a yellow card.
FIFPRO has in the past offered support in individual cases where players have walked off the pitch. This is the first time it has backed such action on a general basis.
"Because the application of measures to protect professional footballers is failing, FIFPRO fully supports players and teams who decide to walk off the pitch and will provide assistance to those players in any way necessary," it said in a statement.
"We are deeply concerned for the well-being of the players who are subjected to this type of hurtful discrimination."
It said neither the existing three-step protocol for dealing with racist incidents in matches nor sanctions such as fines and partial stadium closures had worked.
"The large number of recent cases of discrimination show that football’s general anti-racism protocol is insufficiently applied and does not achieve its objectives," it said.
"Sanctions passed by sporting organisations have had no significant effect and law enforcement in many countries has failed to provide appropriate responses to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes – whether in stadia or online."
Under the three-step protocol, play is stopped and a request is made to the crowd to stop racist behaviour. If it continues, the match is suspended and the teams led off the pitch for five to ten minutes and another announcement is made. If that still does not work, the match is suspended.
FIFPRO added that the pitch was the footballers’ workplace and that "football competition organisers, employers and governments have a duty of care towards players exposed to discrimination on the field of play."
As well as the more effective measures, it said that the fight against racism required "deeper considerations such as diverse representation in decision-making bodies."