FIFA dis­bands racism task force ahead of World Cup in Rus­sia

Malta Independent - - SPORTS -

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.

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