By Duarte Mendonca and Sammy Mncwabe, CNN
(CNN) — Real Madrid’s Vinícius Jr. was invited to take part in a FIFA anti-racism committee with players who will help suggest a course of action to deal with discriminatory behavior in football, President Gianni Infantino said on Thursday.
In a statement posted to social media, Infantino went on to say that FIFA “will also strengthen the engagement with players on this crucial topic” and added he was happy that “Vinícius accepted to be part of a task force which will include other important players and will elaborate concrete and efficient measures to end racism in football once and for all.”
“There is no football if there is racism! So let’s stop the games,” Infantino urged in his Instagram post.
“The referees have this opportunity in FIFA competitions as we have this process for stopping the game, and actions have to be taken at every level, at national level as well. Everyone has to understand this and we will go, together, until the end,” the FIFA boss emphasized in his statement.
“We want to identify racists in stadiums and across social media. They are criminals. We have to fight against them away from stadiums. They have to be banned from stadiums across the globe.
“The authorities need to take these people to court and we will say this to all of them. Racism is a crime,” he stressed.
Vinícius was subjected to persistent racist abuse during his team’s 1-0 defeat to Valencia at the Mestalla Stadium in May, making it the 10th incident involving the Brazilian forward that Spain’s LaLiga reported to prosecutors during the 2022-2023 season.
Spanish football authorities has been criticized for its perceived inaction towards dolling out punishment for the incidents involving Vinícius.
In May, seven arrests were made by police in connection to the incidents, Spain’s football federation (RFEF) launched a new anti-racism campaign and ordered the partial closure of Valencia’s stadium and LaLiga formally called to be given sanctioning powers to better fight racism.
LaLiga told CNN it does not have the authority to impose punishments on clubs or fans. Instead, it must pass investigations into incidents of racist abuse onto local prosecutors, who deal with them as legal cases.
CNN has reached out to Vinícius Jr.’s representatives for comment.
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