The Football Association has claimed to be a "world leader" in combating racism within the game after introducing a five-game minimum ban as the starting point for discriminatory offences, with clubs also facing the possibility of a points deduction. But the governing body were immediately accused of a "missed opportunity" by anti-racism campaigners.
Next week Uefa's congress in London will vote on a 10-game minimum ban, and Piara Powar of Fare, the European anti-racism watchdog, claimed the FA should have followed suit. Powar said: "It's a shame it can't be the 10 games Uefa say they will implement in their competitions and that they are recommending all national associations will adopt. It is a missed opportunity. Surely Uefa's 10-match ban should be the standard."
The FA indicated that if Uefa's proposal is widely adopted in Europe – it will be only a recommendation – it will consider increasing its minimum ban to match. The FA's new sanctions start next season and will be on a sliding scale. They set a new standard and rise quickly according to the perceived seriousness of the offence. A serious first offence, such as John Terry's against Anton Ferdinand in 2011, could result in a disciplinary panel deciding on a ban of 10 or more games. The starting point for a second offence is 10 games, while persistent offenders face a life ban.
If two players from a club are sanctioned for discriminatory abuse – it covers race, religion, homophobia and disability – in the space of 12 months, the club would face action and that could result in a points deduction.
"We are very proud to have taken a world lead in this matter," said David Bernstein, the FA's chairman, who has overseen the process and will soon sit alongside Powar on Fifa's anti-racism task force. "We deserve a degree of credit for taking a lead in this. I don't think it is a coincidence that others have followed."
The new measures will also see an education programme for all FA staff, referees and professional clubs, beginning next season. A budget of £4m has been put in place to cover the programme for two seasons. Bernstein stressed that the measures had the agreement of the Premier League, the Football League and Kick It Out, the anti-racism in football campaign.