FIFA president Gianni Infantino has promised to take a hardline approach against racism and doping at next year’s World Cup in Russia.
The likes of Yaya Toure and Hulk are among the high-profile names to have spoken about being subjected to racist abuse in Russia in recent years, and the topic of how to deal with discrimination has been a key talking point in the build-up to the World Cup.
Infantino has vowed to take a zero-tolerance approach to racism, including stopping games if necessary, but is confident that no incidents will occur during the showpiece tournament.
Speaking on a YouTube video, posted on FIFA’s website just four days before the World Cup draw, he said: “When it comes to anti-discrimination it is the same at FIFA. This is a very high priority and we’ll make sure that no incidents will happen.
“If incidents happen then we have for the first time in a World Cup the so-called three-step procedure where a referee can stop a game or even abandon a game if there are discriminatory racist incidents.
“This is absolutely not tolerable and we will be very, very firm on that so we can expect fair play in Russia.
“We expect a peaceful event. We made the experience at the Confederations Cup where the whole event was run in a very peaceful and smooth way.
“And together with the authorities we are sure that everything is organised so that the fans can enjoy in a peaceful way.
“I think it’s very important because everyone who comes to Russia will want to be that sure they come in a secure environment.
“The environment is and will be secure. The authorities are putting in 200% of their efforts to make sure that this happens. This will happen.
“We can expect the World Cup in Russia to change perceptions. All of us we have a perception of a country, and when it comes to Russia as well.
“As it happened in the past with other hosts, I’m sure that this World Cup will change the way in which the world is looking at Russia.
“The world will discover a country that is open, which is welcoming, which is warm, which loves to party and enjoy and celebrate everything, but in particular in the months of June and July to celebrate football.”
Infantino also addressed the issue of doping tests, with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) still suspended.
“We expect fair play on the pitch and when speak about fair play we have to speak about anti-discrimination and anti-doping as well,” he said.
“Speaking about doping obviously all players in all teams will be tested in competition and out of competition and we are sure that everyone is well aware of this situation.”