efe-epaZurich, Switzerland

FIFA has on Thursday announced changes to its disciplinary code, affecting sensitive topics such as racism, financial issues and disputes within the sport.

The world governing body of soccer said that the modifications of its code, the first major alterations in nearly 15 years, would come into effect on July 15.

“It is better structured, clearer, more concise (down from 147 articles to 72), more transparent and incorporates innovative modifications in the context of FIFA's disciplinary proceedings,” FIFA said in a statement.

The international organization explained that changes have been introduced into several topics, including: discrimination, match manipulation AND disciplinary process within FIFA, among others.

FIFA stressed a zero tolerance policy towards any act of racism or discrimination, reiterating that the governing body “will not hesitate to tackle any form of discriminatory behavior.”

FIFA also said that its disciplinary measures will now include preparing a prevention plan through education modules about diversity meant to combat discrimination.

The governing body's Disciplinary Committee would allow a victim of such act to make a statement and even to participate in the proceedings, confirming that “FIFA will not let down victims of racist abuse,” according to the statement.

In addition, it set out a general rule about discriminatory acts during matches, saying that any game would be automatically forfeited if the referee has abandoned the pitch after having “applied the three-step procedure for discriminatory incidents.”

These three steps are: stopping the match; suspending the match; and finally the referee's abandoning the match.

Touching on match-fixing, the statement said: “the Disciplinary Committee is now the only body competent to deal with match manipulation matters at FIFA level.

“Moreover, for the first time, certain types of disciplinary hearings - concerning doping and match manipulation cases - will be open to the public if the parties request it."

FIFA also underscored the need for financial justice within soccer, confirming a transfer ban on clubs in arrears.

“FIFA must use its prominent global position to deliver financial justice,” stressed the world soccer governing body.

Furthermore, FIFA said it will be implementing the ordinary decisions of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the international sporting judicial body established in 1984 in Switzerland.

Finally, the FIFA statement expressed a desire that these new changes will provide the world body “with a unique legal instrument to confront the many disciplinary issues that it and its stakeholders will face in the future in a reliable and innovative manner.” EFE-EPA