FIFA end­ing racism task force de­nounced as shame­ful be­trayal

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

FIFA’s abo­li­tion of its anti-racism task force was de­nounced as a shame­ful be­trayal yes­ter­day as the gov­ern­ing body went on the de­fen­sive to reaf­firm its com­mit­ment to fight­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­vealed on Sun­day that the anti-racism group was be­ing dis­man­tled af­ter FIFA de­cided that its mis­sion had been com­pleted af­ter three years.

Kick It Out, English soc­cer’s an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion, said it was “per­plexed” by FIFA’s de­ci­sion, given the World Cup is be­ing staged in 2018 in Rus­sia “which is no­to­ri­ous for racism and abu­sive ac­tiv­i­ties to­wards mi­nori­ties.”

Jor­da­nian fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Prince Ali said he found it “in­cred­i­bly wor­ry­ing” that the task force was be­ing scrapped given the “very real and ap­par­ent” dis­crim­i­na­tion prob­lem that re­mains in soc­cer.

“The fight against racism is far from over and the no­tion that the cur­rent FIFA lead­er­ship be­lieves that the ‘task force’s rec­om­men­da­tions have been im­ple­mented’ is shame­ful,” said Prince Ali, a for­mer FIFA pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and FIFA vice pres­i­dent. “Now the idea that FIFA be­lieves that it’s the right time to dis­band its anti-racism task force is ridicu­lous.”

Prince Ali be­lieves the task force should have been em­pow­ered to work fur­ther with soc­cer author­i­ties and gov­ern­ments to use the sport to tackle dis­crim­i­na­tion in wider so­ci­ety.

“There is still so much work to do, and FIFA must show lead­er­ship, take re­spon­si­bil­ity for re­form and be ac­count­able if change isn’t put into prac­tice,” Prince Ali said.

“Trans­parency, trust, cred­i­bil­ity and in­tegrity are the val­ues that should run through ev­ery­thing FIFA does. Not tack­ling the plague of racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion prop­erly is an ab­so­lute be­trayal of those val­ues.”

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 in Septem­ber 2015 as task force chair­man by Con­golese fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Con­stant Omari.

FILE - This is a Tues­day, July 5, 2016 file photo of FIFA Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Fatma Samoura as she speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Moscow, Rus­sia Photo: AP

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