South American football association raises penalty for racism cases

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Boca Juniors fan Leonardo Ponzo, 43, is detained in São Paulo for making racial gestures towards Brazilian fans during Boca’s April 28 game against Corinthians. Photo: William Volcov/Brazil Photo Press/Folhapress

Conmebol, the governing body for South American football, decided to increase fines against clubs whose fans, players, or staff members are involved in cases of racism or discrimination.

Fines will now go from just USD 30,000, which was criticized as being nothing more than a slap on the wrist — considering that home teams earn USD 1 million per match they host — to a minimum of USD 100,000.

This change to the organization’s disciplinary code came after Brazilian fans were targeted by racist acts in five different matches of the Copa Libertadores — South America’s equivalent of the UEFA Champions League — in April, as we explained in the last Latin America Weekly newsletter. 

Conmebol also decided that players or officials found guilty of related crimes will be suspended from official competitions for up to two months. Clubs will also be forced to host games behind closed doors depending on their supporters’ reactions.

“Competitions organized by Conmebol require the cooperation of all involved to avoid unsportsmanlike behavior, particularly racism, xenophobia, or any other form of discrimination,” the confederation stated.