Cayman’s top football figure is making headlines with his stance on racism.
At a recent congress in Brazil, FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb says teams should be removed from the 2014 World Cup if their fans or players commit racist offenses. The George Town native said football’s governing body should emulate the NBA, which banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from basketball for life after his racist remarks and ensuing controversy.
“The NBA set a new standard and I applaud them,” Webb said. “They made a swift and concise decision – we need to do the same. We must have a zero tolerance. I’m clearly hoping that FIFA is going to make a stand and our disciplinary bodies and individuals are going to make the tough decisions and stop talking and start taking action. We’ve got to get the national associations and confederations around the world to start implementing [harsher penalties]. They really haven’t started implementing them. The level of fines we still continue to see are not really going to have an impact.”
Webb, who heads FIFA’s anti-discrimination taskforce, was at the opening match – that saw hosts Brazil beat Croatia, 3-1 – along with members of Cayman’s football fraternity such as Bruce Blake, Mark Campbell and Marcos Tinoco. Former Minister of Sports and current president of Bodden Town Football Club Mark Scotland was also there and recently returned.
The Sterling scandal is far from over as the billionaire is in the midst of a legal battle for ownership rights of the team, which the NBA forced to be sold to former Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer for a reported figure of $2 billion. The Clippers, who reached the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, continue to make front office adjustments with head coach Doc Rivers now becoming the president of basketball operations.
Back on the pitch, Webb also created a stir for his take on the corruption allegations surrounding Qatar’s winning bid to stage the 2022 World Cup. Last week, FIFA president Sepp Blatter told African football officials that the controversy was motivated by racism and discrimination. Webb disagreed.
“I don’t share that view at all. Obviously events have transpired in FIFA over recent years and the congress has in the past two years implemented various reforms. We’ve created processes to put in place with the ethics committee. There’s a full investigation. Allow them to do their work and allow those processes to take place and the chips fall wherever they may. The credibility of the game is very important. It’s paramount. And we cannot afford to lose the credibility or integrity of FIFA, whatever it takes to restore that and to turn that around.”
World Cup group matches continue on June 19. James Rodriguez and Colombia battle Didier Drogba and Ivory Coast at 11 a.m. Cayman time in Brasilia. Wayne Rooney and England look to rebound from their opening loss against an ailing Luis Suarez and Uruguay at 2 p.m. in Sao Paulo. Keisuke Honda and Japan face Konstantinos Mitroglou and Greece at 5 p.m. in Natal.