FIFA ending racism task force denounced as shameful betrayal
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