CONMEBOL announces harsher punishments for racism after spate of incidents

South American confederation CONMEBOL announced on Monday increased sanctions against clubs with players, officials and fans deemed guilty of racist behaviour, taking action after a spate of incidents in its top club competitions.

With immediate effect, any player or official found guilty of discrimination will be banned for a minimum of five games or two months, the confederation said.

Any club whose fans are judged to have partaken in discriminatory behaviour will be fined a minimum of $100,000, more than three times the previous minimum, and could be forced to play games behind closed doors.

The sanctions apply to discrimination on grounds of skin colour, race, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, language or creed, CONMEBOL said in a statement.

The decision was taken "due to the worrying increase in the number of infractions committed by fans that involve discrimination, specifically racism," it said.

It comes in the wake of several incidents in April, mostly involving racist gestures aimed at Brazilian players in the Copa Libertadores, South American's equivalent of the Champions League, or the Copa Sudamericana, the region's version of the Europa League.

Brazilians playing against teams from Argentina, Chile and Ecuador were targeted, prompting the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to call for an "international crusade" against racism and discrimination.

It invited clubs, law enforcement, media, and judicial authorities to meet with FIFA and the CBF in June to discuss what form the campaign might take.