Football’s governing body plans to strengthen its monitoring and prevention of discrimination.
The Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force, chaired by FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, met last Tuesday at the Home of FIFA to discuss the strategy for strengthening education and sanction measures within football. The Task Force was presented a concrete action plan to reinforce monitoring and evidence-finding mechanisms to tackle discriminatory incidents in football under FIFA’s jurisdiction, including the appointment and training of anti-discrimination officers for upcoming tournaments.
“It is shocking to see how we still face cases of discrimination in football on a regular basis,” said Webb. “The appointment and training of anti-discrimination officers as well as the publication of a handbook of good practices will be two important steps in the fight against racism and all forms of discrimination. Both measures send out a concrete message. Now we need the full support from clubs, member associations, non-governmental organizations and campaign groups.”
Further measures in the fight against discrimination include the publication of a handbook of good practices that will be distributed to FIFA member associations in 2015, guiding them to foster diversity and anti-discrimination in football in their respective countries. The handbook will include information and best practices on policy, education, sanctions and cooperation with civil society partners.
“The Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force and Jeffrey Webb, as its chairman, have the full support of FIFA and its administration,” said FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, emphasizing the need for strong measures in order to achieve concrete results.
“The topics that were discussed are very relevant, starting with the practical measures that need to be taken against racism and discrimination – and the chairman brought to us very concrete elements that we may hold ourselves accountable to,” said Tokyo Sexwale, politician, anti-Apartheid activist and founder of Global Watch. The Task Force also agreed on the importance of using the 2018 FIFA World Cup as a platform to raise awareness on the issue and showcase FIFA’s zero tolerance policy against any form of discrimination.
“It was an interesting discussion about concrete measures to combat racism and discrimination. Together with FIFA and the other stakeholders, we are developing a plan that will encompass all areas concerning the fight against discrimination,” said Alexander Djordjadze, Deputy CEO of the 2018 Russia World Cup Local Organizing Committee.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup took place in Brazil this summer, featuring the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Task Force involves representatives from diverse stakeholder backgrounds such as United Nations, NGOs, players, coaches, referees, media, legal and member associations, among others. Discrimination is an issue that impacts heavily on the image and enjoyment of the game.
“It was a very mature and intense debate, which is a good sign: it means that the Task Force is getting beneath the skin of the issues that face us. This bodes well in terms of getting a clear direction to football around the globe, which in the end is what FIFA is about,” stressed Piara Powar, CEO of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE).
The Task Force was also handed for their review and feedback the first edition of CONCACAF Diversity Handbook, which gathers educational information and practical resources from leading international organizations to promote inclusiveness within the football family.
For their collaboration and efforts, Webb thanked all Task Force members and guests who attended the meeting while emphasizing that “there are thousands of games played around the world every year, yet we are only addressing probably one percent of those with unfortunate incidents of discrimination. We should also recognize some of the great work and respect amongst individuals portrayed in all the other 99 percent of games. Ultimately, this is about collective responsibility and solutions.”
Present at the meeting were Jeffrey Webb; deputy chairman Jacques Anouma, FIFA Vice President Senes Erzik; Russia Chief of Anti-Discrimination Section at United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Yury Boychenko; AIPS President Gianni Merlo; Powar; Sexwale; Chairman of FIFA Disciplinary Committee, Dr. Claudio Susler; FIFpro Secretary General Theo Van Seggelen and FIFA Referee Howard Webb.
Guest consultants present were: Djordjadze; UEFA Disciplinary Service, Legal Counsel, Véron Mosegno–Omba; Independent Non-Executive Director of the Board of The FA, Heather Rabbatts and former international player Jason Roberts.
The Task Force was announced by FIFA President Joseph Blatter in March of 2013, following a meeting of the FIFA Strategic Committee, as part of a series of measures to tackle the pressing issue of racism and discrimination in football.