Former Socceroo and PFA chairman Francis Awaritefe has called for football authorities to make serious changes to how they approach incidents of racism in the game.
Talking to The World Game LIVE show on Wednesday, Awaritefe told hosts Nick Stoll and Adrian Arciuli that football’s governing bodies must approach incidents differently, such as the alleged racist comments from a fourth official during the UEFA Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir this morning, if racism is to be rubbed out of the game.
Awaritefe, who is also a vice-president on the board of world player association FIFPRO, says racism should be seen as a human rights violation and should be dealt with as such to ensure it is taken out of the game.
“This is the sort of reaction from the players I truly applaud," he said.
"They have stood by their colleague and made a stand that incidents like this don’t have a place in football.
“I support the decision to walk off the field and feel we have a real crisis on our hands in regards to incidents of racism in the game.
“We need more than just the usual three-step protocol and blame statements from FIFA and UEFA if racism is going to be removed from the game.
“It needs to be looked at as a human rights violation and where there is a violation players need a proper avenue to achieve a proper remedy for the structural racism which is rife in football.
“It is about time football authorities stand up and say were are going to make a substantive stand against racism and we are going to start now.”
While supportive of the players making a stand against racism in football, Awaritefe believes it shouldn’t be up to them to take such action.
“It is an indictment on the game when it is the players who have to make a stand,” he said.
“There have been incidents in the past where black players have been blamed for reacting to racism such as the incident last season when Moise Kean was berated by his teammates after being racially abused by fans.
“It’s absolute nonsense that you have a room full of white guys coming up with a response to these breaches of human rights for black athletes.
“Black players ought to be included and should even lead that process in terms of finding a solution through the games organisational bodies in addressing discrimination.
“Too many sports are frightened of the reaction from a small group if they are to take a strong stance on discrimination and abuse.
“That’s not showing courage. Sport is a force for good, equality and respect.”
"It can be very difficult to effect change in a board room as more often than not those people are not the ones experiencing the discrimination.
"The leaders in this game have to be brave and make a stand."