The FA have today published new charging policies and sanctioning guidelines for discrimination by individual participants and spectators.
The charging policies and sanctioning guidelines will be effective for the start of the 2020-21 season following a detailed consultation process with focus groups and stakeholders such as Kick It Out, the PFA, the LMA and various representatives from clubs and leagues.
The fact that an incident of discrimination by an individual took place in private or outside of a standard football setting will now not be a barrier to The FA issuing proceedings and it has been agreed by football’s stakeholders that such measures are appropriate.
Match-based sanctions of six to twelve games will be recommended to Regulatory Commissions for almost all acts of discrimination by individual participants. While the previous minimum of six games could be increased or decreased in certain circumstances, it is believed that by providing a range it allows greater scope for cases to be sanctioned appropriately and consistently based on their individual circumstances and seriousness.
Feedback and consultation with the focus groups and stakeholders suggested that flexibility may be required in rare circumstances where the range of six to twelve games could lead to unfair outcomes. As a result, the sanctioning guidelines allow Regulatory Commissions to apply a match-based sanction below the standard range where an offence is “in writing only or via any communication device” and another specific mitigating factor is present. However, any decision must be in the best interests of anti-discrimination in football and the absolute minimum match-based sanction in such cases will be three games.
The FA does not have jurisdiction over individual spectators unless they are also participants in football. Therefore, any action for discriminatory behaviour will be taken against a club for the behaviour of its spectators. All allegations of discriminatory behaviour will be investigated by The FA.
In cases where there is clear evidence of discriminatory chanting by a group of supporters, The FA will act against the relevant club and recommend that a Regulatory Commission imposes an action plan for a first offence. While a range of financial penalties are possible, action plans implement practical and measurable improvements to match-day operations that in some instances can come at a significant financial cost to offending clubs. Any subsequent offences will be treated with the utmost seriousness; in such circumstances, Regulatory Commissions can impose any sanctions they deem appropriate but either full or partial stadium closures and financial penalties will be considered.
Polly Handford, The FA’s Director of Legal and Governance, said: “We are committed to investigating, charging and sanctioning all forms of discrimination with consistency and transparency. No two cases are ever the same but our new charging policies and sanctioning guidelines provide clear frameworks for the circumstances in which we will act and set out suggested penalties to accurately reflect the severity of each incident. By publishing these policies and guidelines in full, we hope that participants, supporters and the general public will have greater awareness and understanding of our approach and any decisions next season.”
The charging policies and sanctioning guidelines are available in full below.