PLAYERS could face a minimum ban of five-matches for racism offences under a proposals to tackle discrimination being considered by the football authorities.
A fixed tariff for discrimination is one of a number of changes under discussion as the game seeks a coherent response to recent scandals, including the charges of racial abuse levelled at Luis Suarez and John Terry.
Both players were found guilty of racially abusing opponents by FA disciplinary panels, but received widely differing punishments, with Suarez banned for eight games and Terry for just four.
Currently, racially aggravated offences in football carry double the penalty they would receive without a discriminatory element, but there is still a range of discretion available to disciplinary panels.
It is believed that the five-match minimum was discussed at an FA summit on wider discrimination issues this week, though it has not yet been formalised.
A five-match ban would carry a strong message about the severity of the offence, though the proposal will have to be approved by the Football Regulatory Authority before they can be introduced.
Minimum bans for racist offences are one of a number of measures under discussion as the game seeks to respond to issues raised by the Suarez and Terry cases, the allegations of racism levelled at referee Mark Clattenburg by Chelsea players, and continuing incidents of disorder, some of it racially aggravated, most recently at Sunday's Manchester derby.
The FA has prepared an 'Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan' in response, which is now being considered by the professional leagues, the amateur game, the Professional Footballers Association and the League Managers Association.
Under the proposals, players and managers will be required to sign up to a code of conduct covering general behaviour as well as discrimination and clubs could be held accountable if they fail to act appropriately.
It is also expected that anti-discrimination clauses be written into contracts, with racism defined as gross misconduct, giving clubs licence to dismiss players who are proven to be in breach.
The plan also proposes that foreign players receive tuition in English culture as part of their acclimatisation to the game in this country. The move is a direct response to the Suarez case, in which he argued that using the term "negro" towards Manchester United's Patrice Evra was not racist because the term was culturally acceptable in Uruguay. (© Daily Telegraph, London)