When FIFA asked every competition to enforce a three-step procedure in response to racism at matches, the English Premier League did not follow the advice.
That disregard of the protocols set out by FIFA secretary general, Fatma Samoura, in a July letter to every national association has created confusion as English football reels from another marquee game being tarnished by racism.
Tottenham has asked the Premier League to clarify the procedures it follows in the wake of the fallout from Chelsea defender Antonio Rüdiger reporting being subjected to monkey noises from the home fans in Sunday’s London derby.
Rüdiger’s complaint was swiftly followed by a warning announcement to more than 61,000 fans in the Tottenham stadium: “Racist behavior among spectators is interfering with the game.” By ordering the announcement, referee Anthony Taylor was clearly following the first step of the the FIFA and UEFA anti-racism protocol, which then allows the suspension of the game and eventual abandonment if abuse continues.
But the Premier League has a more involved six-step reaction plan that does not provide the clarity offered by the instructions provided by FIFA and European body UEFA for referees to follow.
The priority for the Premier League is ensuring “the match is not unduly interrupted,” which leads to the league not demanding referees seek an in-stadium warning to fans to cease the racism. The first step after being informed of racism in the Premier League is instead to ask the fourth official to inform security authorities, who should then seek out the perpetrators.
So, when three warnings were issued at Tottenham at ten-minute intervals, there was confusion not just for television viewers worldwide and experts who believed the game could be abandoned due to repeated abuse but also the home team.
“When the incident was conveyed to the referee Anthony Taylor, he took the decision to call for the implementation of Stage 1 of the UEFA protocol – rather than the Premier League protocol – and asked for an announcement to be made, as well as requesting a further announcement which created a misconception that any issue was on-going,” Tottenham said in a statement.