Anti-racism task force set up in 2013
FIFA says body has "fulfilled its temporary mission"
FIFA has come under criticism for disbanding its anti-racism task force after soccer’s world governing body said the body had “completely fulfilled its temporary mission.”
The task force was set up in 2013 by the organization’s disgraced former president Sepp Blatter to combat racism in the sport.
In a letter to task force member Osasu Obayiuwana, FIFA said the body had “exceeded the working group” recommendations,” such as anti-discrimination initiatives for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
FIFA’s decision was described as “incredibly worrying,” by former FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali of Jordan.
“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.”
World Cup in Russia
There are widespread concerns about how minorities will be treated if they travel to Russia’s first major international football tournament for the 2018 World Cup.
In August 2016, according to the respected Moscow-based SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, “racially motivated attacks affected at least six people in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, resulting in three deaths.”
SOVA also says a group of nine young men in Yekaterinburg attacked visitors of a gay bar during the recent Euro 2016 tournament, shouting “Russia are the Champions” as the attackers also shot air rifles.
Despite this, FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura countered suggestions that it was too soon to end the task force’s work.
“We can live with perception but we are taking very seriously our role as football’s governing body to fight discrimination, it is well reflected in the statutes,” the 54-year-old Senagalese told the Soccerex Global Football Convention in Manchester, England on Monday.
“It had a very specific mandate and they came up with very strong recommendations and FIFA is acting on them,” added Samoura, who is the first woman and non-European to serve on the FIFA executive.
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“There are several cases against teams and based on solid legal grounds we have taken strong measures through the sanctioning body.
“Coming from the UN we must really be firm. It is really on top of the agenda of the FIFA administration.
“It is zero tolerance to discrimination on grounds of culture, racism color of the skin and sexual orientation.”
Obayiuwana, who is a lawyer, journalist and broadcaster, told AP, “the problem of racism in football remains a burning, very serious and topical one, which needs continuous attention.”
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“I personally think there remained a lot of very serious work for the task force to have done – the 2018 World Cup in Russia being one such matter,” he added.
Andrew Orsatti, the communications director for football’s international players’ union FIFPro, told CNN: “work in this area will not stop as far as FIFPro is concerned.”
“We are constantly measuring the mood of players worldwide to understand how they experience discrimination in the workplace.”
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