FIFA disbands racism task force ahead of World Cup in Russia
FIFA has disbanded its antiracism task force, declaring the work complete despite ongoing concerns about discriminatory behavior in 2018 World Cup host Russia.
FIFA wrote to members of the task force to say that it has “completely fulfilled its temporary mission” and “is hereby dissolved and no longer in operation.”
The task force was established in 2013 by then-FIFA President Sepp Blatter and headed by Jeffrey Webb, a vice president of world soccer’s governing body until he was arrested in 2015 as part of the American investigation into soccer corruption.
Webb, who pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, was replaced exactly a year ago as task force chairman by Congolese federation president Constant Omari, who also sits on FIFA’s ruling council.
Obayiuwana, a journalist, broadcaster and qualified lawyer, received the letter from FIFA on Friday announcing the end of the task force.
FIFA pointed to the introduction of an anti-discrimination monitoring system at matches, the launch of a “Good Practice Guide ,” starting a team of footballing legends and a new diversity award.
Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s first female and non-European secretary general, will present the award on Monday at the SoccerEx convention in Manchester.
FIFA also told task force members that its own initiatives “actually exceed the working group’s recommendations” — trumpeting its “Say No to Racism” campaign, women’s leadership conferences and programs in Russia.
There are less than nine months until Russia stages the Confederations Cup, the warm-up event for the 2018 World Cup.
The most recent research from the Moscow-based SOVA Center and the UEFA-affiliated FARE Network reported a surge in the number of racist displays by Russian soccer fans, with most cases going unpunished.