The newly created FIFA Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination, chaired by FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, held its first meeting today at the Home of FIFA in Zurich. In this first session, the debates focused on the application of sanctions in cases of racist and discriminative acts, specifically studying the proposal to uniformly implement the sanctions that already exist in the FIFA regulations in a stronger and more consistent manner.
The task force made 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.
“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 following people took part in today’s meeting, which was opened by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter: Jeffrey Webb (FIFA Vice-President, President of CONCACAF); Darren Bailey (Director of The Football Association’s Football Governance and Regulation) who was representing David Bernstein, President of The FA, for this session; Yury Boychenko (Chief of the Anti-Discrimination Section at the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner) who was replacing the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem PILLAY; Serey Die (Ivory Coast player at FC Basel); Gianni Merlo (AIPS President); Marcel Mathier (Outgoing chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee); Osasu Obayiuwana (Associate Editor of New African Magazine); Piara Powar (CEO of FARE); Theo van Seggelen (FIFPro Secretary General); Claudio Sulser (Incoming chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee); Howard Webb (FIFA Referee); Véron Mosengo-Omba (UEFA); Dr Thomas Partl (UEFA). The players Jozy Altidore and Kevin-Prince Boateng, who had obligations with their respective clubs, were excused for this first session of the task force.
It should be noted that this is still an open list and additional members may be included in the task force in the future.