From left to right: FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President, Jeffrey Webb, who leads the FIFA Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination; and FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke; during the first meeting at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on May 6. (Copyright: FIFA/Foto-net)
The group, chaired by FIFA Vice-president and CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, included representatives from the football committee and a panel of experts on the fight against racism and discrimination. During the session, members highlighted the need to send a strong message of zero tolerance towards any such acts within football, making sure social justice and racial integration is implemented at all levels of the football community.
"We have a special responsibility in the way we can impact football and society," said Webb during his opening remarks. "One of the opportunities this task force has is its vast reach throughout FIFA's 209 member associations where we can implement the resolutions in every region and every country where football is played, bringing universality to the mechanisms that combat racism and discrimination."
The task force came up with the following proposals, which will be included in a draft resolution to be presented at the FIFA Congress in Mauritius at the end of May:
- Firstly, having an official at the stadium who would identify potential acts of discrimination with the aim of easing the pressure on referees and facilitating the availability of evidence, which is not always easy to obtain, for the disciplinary committees to take decisions;
- Secondly, applying sanctions in two stages, with a list of applicable sanctions for a first or a minor offence, such as a warning, a fine, or the playing of a match behind closed doors, and a list of stronger sanctions for reoffenders or for serious incidents, such as point deductions, expulsion from a competition, or relegation;
- Thirdly, emphasis on the responsibility of member associations and clubs for the actions of their players, officials and supporters, and on the need to implement the existing sanctions in a harmonised way across all confederations, member associations and leagues, with a proposal to request that clubs and member associations provide a concrete action plan showing their intention to fight any forms of racism and discrimination among their supporters.
Reflecting the discussions that took place today, the Task Force will present a resolution on the issue of sanctions at the upcoming FIFA Congress in Mauritius at the end of May. Similarly, at its next meeting the Task Force will focus on education and prevention, which is the second objective that was set when the group was created.
The following personalities took part in today's meeting:
Darren Bailey (Director of Football Governance & Regulation of The Football Association) who was replacing for this session David Bernstein, President of the FA;
Yury Boychenko (Chief of Anti-Discrimination Section at United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner who was replacing the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethemi Pillay);
Serey Die (Ivory Coast player at FC Basel);
Giovanni Merlo (Italian Journalist representing AIPS Media);
Marcel Mathier (Outgoing chairman the FIFA Disciplinary Committee);
Osasu Obayiuwan (Associate Editor NewAfrican Magazine);
Piara Powar (CEO of FARE);
Theo Van Seggelen (FIFpro Secretary General);
Claudio Sulser (Incoming chairman FIFA Disciplinary Committee);
Howard Webb (FIFA Referee);
Véron Moseng-Omba (UEFA);
Dr Thomas Partl (UEFA).
Excused for this first session were players Jozy Altidore and Kevin-Prince Boateng who had obligations with their respective clubs.
It should be noted that this is still an open list and additional members may be included in the task force in the future.