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Footballers face a ban of 12 matches for acts of discrimination from next season

Footballers are facing a 12-match suspension for acts of discrimination from the start of next season.

The Football Association are taking a more robust approach to how they punish individuals found guilty of prejudice.

Previously the minimum punishment for discriminatory acts was a ban of six matches – but the governing body have now increased that to a range of six to 12 games.

Historically, the FA’s powers have only stretched to incidents within the football bubble – but the organisation can now impose sanctions for behaviour away from the game, for example when players socialising with friends.

The FA’s reasoning in raising the punishment threshold is that it allows them to take each case on its own merits, whereas previously the minimum six-game punishment could restrict the most serious cases.

The governing body could even impose punishments greater than the 12 games if a participant has a previous history of offending.

In some rare cases, however, the FA could inflict a ban lower than six matches. This would generally be reserved for cases where a participant was unintentionally discriminatory.

For instance, Dele Alli and Bernardo Silva were both hit with one-match suspensions for social media posts last season that were adjudged to be racist by the FA, despite opposition from the players.

However, the FA have increased the minimum ban for such cases from one match to three.

The FA would usually communicate any procedural changes to the clubs on a face-to-face basis – but given the guidelines over social distancing the governing body have produced videos which will be sent to clubs across the country.

Clubs will have the option of face-to-face meetings later in the season provided social distancing measures are eased, while FA chiefs will offer video conference calls with teams in the interim. 

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