Sunday 5 July, 2020

FIFA: Use common sense on protests over George Floyd death

Borussia Dortmund's Achraf Hakimi  celebrated his goal against Paderborn in the Bundesliga on Sunday by displaying the message 'Justice for George Floyd'.

Borussia Dortmund's Achraf Hakimi celebrated his goal against Paderborn in the Bundesliga on Sunday by displaying the message 'Justice for George Floyd'.

FIFA has asked leagues to "use common sense" when deciding whether to punish players who protest against the death of George Floyd during games.

Borussia Dortmund duo Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi displayed 'Justice for George Floyd' messages when celebrating goals during a Bundesliga victory over Paderborn on Sunday. Schalke's Weston McKennie sported an armband with the same message and Borussia Monchengladbach attacker Marcus Thuram took a knee after scoring against Union Berlin.

Their actions were a show of support for the protests that have come in the wake of Floyd's death in police custody in Minneapolis last week, sparking demonstrations and riots in the United States and beyond.

Sancho was booked for removing his shirt, while Hakimi, McKennie, and Thuram received no on-field punishment in relation to their tributes. However, the German Football Association (DFB) said it would examine the incidents to see whether sanctions were necessary.

With LaLiga, Serie A and the Premier League all due to restart this month, FIFA has urged competition organisers to take context into account when applying the rules.

"FIFA fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the George Floyd case," an official statement read.

"FIFA had repeatedly expressed itself to be resolutely against racism and discrimination of any kind and recently strengthened its own disciplinary rules with a view to helping to eradicate such behaviours.

"FIFA itself has promoted many anti-racism campaigns which frequently carry the anti-racism message at matches organised under its own auspices.

"The application of the Laws of the Game approved by the IFAB [International Football Association Board] is left for the competition organisers which should use common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events."

The DFB's sporting director of elite referees Michael Frohlich suggested on Monday it is not easy for officials to apply such guidelines during a game.

"It is hardly possible for referees to register political, religious or personal slogans, messages or images during a game," said Frohlich. "It isn't the same as referees examining that the equipment's colours match, for example.

"Should the referee notice a political or religious message on the player's equipment, they make a note of it in their match report.

"An exception is when the player's actions have an immediate impact on the game, such as delaying the restart of play, which the referee can punish with a yellow card."

DFB vice-president Rainer Koch said: "As is the case internationally, the game itself should remain free of political statements or messages of any kind; the fair and competitive action on the pitch should be the focus.

"There are of course opportunities before and after the match for these kinds of things. We'll have to wait and see whether sanctions are required in these instances."

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