FIFA toughens stance against racism and proposes measures. GETTY IMAGES

FIFA has spoken out against racism at the 74th Congress of world football's governing body, currently taking place in Bangkok, Thailand. The "Crossed Hands" initiative and tough sanctions, including the forfeiture of matches, are aimed at curbing racism in the beautiful game.

FIFA announced on Friday in Thailand at the ongoing 74th Congress in the south-east Asian country that it wants players to use a "crossed hands" gesture to signal to referees incidents of racist abuse in an attempt to combat discrimination in the game.

In response to racist incidents, there will be a pause in play and the match may be suspended in whole or in part, including the evacuation of the stadium if players report incidents.

Specifically, three steps will be taken: Firstly, players will raise their hands and cross their wrists to inform the referee of a racist incident. Secondly, the referee will publicly ask for the behaviour to stop, and thirdly, he can suspend the game until it stops and, in some scenarios, abandon the game altogether.

World football's governing body will make racism a specific offence in the disciplinary codes of its 211 member associations, with "severe" penalties including the loss of matches.

In the section on regulations and sanctions, FIFA plans to make "racism a specific offence that will be mandatory in the disciplinary codes of each of FIFA's 211 member associations".

"The offence will differentiate racism from other offences and will impose specific and severe sanctions for all racist acts, including the automatic forfeiture of a match".

On-field sanctions will include the interruption and temporary or permanent suspension of matches where racist incidents occur. "We will introduce a universal regulatory gesture for players to report racist incidents and for referees to signal the implementation of the three-step procedure, which will be mandatory in FIFA's 211 member associations," said FIFA.

The "global stand against racism" at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok came after months of consultation with players who have suffered abuse from rivals or fans.

Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior was one of the most high-profile players to speak out about the ugly abuse he suffers in La Liga. The 23-year-old Brazilian winger has said that the racist abuse he receives in stadiums across Spain is diminishing his desire to play football.

His teammate, Jude Bellingham, urged the authorities to do more to tackle the problem, although he doubted they would do anything to tackle racism.

As well as tightening rules and sanctions, FIFA will urge countries to make racism a criminal offence and work with schools and governments to promote anti-racism education. Logically, it can only propose measures or criminalisation, but it cannot interfere in the internal affairs of each country, as each country is sovereign. In other words, it is more of an aspirational statement on this last point.