Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly on Tuesday approved a law that punishes violence and manifestations of racism and xenophobia in sports venues.
The Law Against Violence and Racism punishes those who commit violent and racist acts in sports venues and in their immediate vicinity (5 km) with penalties including a four-year ban from entering sports facilities.
Violence and manifestations of racism are frequent in some of Costa Rica’s soccer stadiums.
Clubs that tolerate racist behavior are now exposed to the closure of their facilities for periods ranging from five days to a full season.
If a violent or racist act is committed by an athlete or referee, he or she can face a sanction of one to four years without participating in sports activity.
The Association of Professional Soccer Players (Asojupro) celebrated the approval of the law, which in its opinion turns sports facilities into “spaces free of violence and racist acts.”
“The approval of this law is a victory for everyone, for the country and for the national sport,” said former soccer player Steven Bryce, executive director of Asojupro.
He added that “among so much discouraging news about the pandemic, this is something very positive and hopeful.”