Webb praises Kick It Out at London event

LONDON – CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb expressed support Tuesday for Kick It Out during an address he delivered at a dinner event celebrating the England-based organization’s 20 years of campaigning work.

“I congratulate Kick It Out for celebrating 20 years of campaigning for equality in football,” Webb said in his speech.  “This organization has facilitated respect among professional clubs, players, fans and communities to tackle all forms of discrimination.” 

Kick It Out works throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.

Webb, Chairman of FIFA’s Taskforce Against Racism and Discrimination, was among a line-up of guests that included former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Martin Luther King Jr.

“Two decades ago, Kick it Out had a vision,” Webb continued.  “The vision for football to be a sport where individuals flourish in a supportive community.  Where fairness is practiced and enforced for the good of the game.

“It is indeed a nice vision.  And the only possible way in which we could achieve it is if we all work together.”

One of the ways Webb proposed bringing that concept to reality is to create a career advisory panel and establish development symposiums to identify and prepare talent for positions within football. 

“We must reward best practices and partnerships that empower those who exercise their responsibility towards greater equality and fairness,” stressed Webb.  “We must educate to eradicate inequalities.”

The FIFA Vice President is a proponent of a zero-tolerance stance towards discrimination.  Last year, at the FIFA Congress in Mauritius, Member Associations approved new anti-racism measures.

“The football family has united to provide a strong, effective and influential voice against all forms of discrimination through education, prevention and sanctions,” Webb noted.  “We are aware that we have a special responsibility in the way we can impact football and society, especially youth.  Our goal is to promote a sport in which all individuals embrace diversity and bring universality to the game throughout the world.”

That objective, Webb asserted, can be achieved by diverse groups working jointly. 

“Solidarity among the football family, NGOs and other stakeholders is paramount,” he said.  “Let us all think how we can best achieve this colossal challenge together.”

The event at Wembley Stadium brought together the main figures who have backed Kick It Out since its inception as ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’, current and ex-professional footballers, the game’s governing bodies and corporate sponsors, and a number of football clubs from across the Premier League and Football League.

“Tonight I toast to all of us to create a new vision of inclusion and diversity within football,” Webb concluded. “Tonight I toast for us to lead this change by example.”