Football racist abuse should trigger automatic match forfeit after 'abhorrent' incidents, says FIFA boss Gianni Infantino

Football teams whose fans commit racist abuse should automatically forfeit games, the head of the world governing body has said after the "totally abhorrent" incidents at Udinese and Sheffield Wednesday.

AC Milan's players walked off the pitch after France international goalkeeper Mike Maignan reported hearing monkey noises coming from a section of the crowd at the Stadio Friuli, also known as the Bluenergy Stadium, in Italy.

Coventry City midfielder Kasey Palmer, 27, said he received similar abuse at Hillsborough and their 2-1 win was stopped for several minutes while the match officials spoke to both managers.

Milan's players eventually returned to secure a 3-2 victory in injury time, but FIFA president Gianni Infantino argued there should be tougher punishments.

He said in a FIFA post on X: "As well as the three-step process (match stopped, match re-stopped, match abandoned), we have to implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans have committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists.

"FIFA and football shows full solidarity to victims of racism and any form of discrimination. Once and for all: No to racism! No to any form of discrimination!

"The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable.

"The players affected by Saturday's events have my undivided support.

"We need ALL the relevant stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society."

Maignan said something had to change as racist abuse has been part of football for too long.

"This shouldn't exist in the world of football, but unfortunately for many years this is a recurrence," he told Milan TV.

"We all have to react, we must do something because you can't play like this."

'You are accomplices'

He later wrote on his Instagram account, which has 1.6 million followers, that everyone had to take responsibility from the fans and clubs through to the authorities and prosecutors.

He said: "The spectators who were in the stands, who saw everything, who heard everything but chose to keep quiet, you are accomplices."

'Enough is enough'

Milan and city rivals Inter have both publicly supported Maignan, Serie A said it "condemns all forms of racism", while France striker Kylian Mbappe said "enough is enough".

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Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright applauded the "solidarity" in the Milan side and urged teams to "keep walking off" when they hear abuse and called for stronger sanctions.

He wrote on X: "We did 'playing through it' and nothing has changed. Points deductions needed, the fines are pointless."

'Things will never change'

But Palmer was sceptical things would change in the game.

Also writing on X, he said: "Racism is a disgrace... it has no place in the world, let alone football.

"I'm black and proud and I am raising my three kids to be the exact same. I'll be honest, it feels like things will never change, no matter how hard we try.

"Couple fans doing monkey chants don't define a fan base - I appreciate all the love and support I've received."

Coventry City owner Doug King and manager Mark Robins condemned the abuse and offered their full support to Palmer, while Sheffield Wednesday said they were "shocked and saddened" by the incident and anyone found culpable will face "the strictest possible sanctions from both Sheffield Wednesday and the law".

Anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out commended Maignan and Palmer for their "courage".

Call for 'stronger and more meaningful punishments'

"Now it's up to authorities and clubs to punish those responsible, but if clubs cannot prevent this happening, they too should face consequences," it said in a statement on X.

"We welcome stronger and more meaningful punishments, as called for by FIFA. It cannot be on the players to solve this.

"They are already showing courage under extreme distress and emotional trauma. They need support with actions, not words."