When Spain meet Thailand in the Round of 16 at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012, FIFA will take the opportunity to underline football’s united stance against all forms of discrimination, from racism to religious prejudice.
The 11 November encounter between two-time world champions Spain and the tournament hosts will see Spain’s captain read a statement on behalf of his team, rejecting discrimination in all its forms and pledging to use the power of football to express that discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, ethnic origin, religion, sexuality or on any other grounds have no place at all in global football.
He will be joined by his Thai counterpart, who will read a similar pledge on behalf of the Thailand team calling on all those watching the game around the world to join together in saying an unequivocal ‘No’ to any norm of discrimination.
Speaking at a conference hosted by English organisation Kick It Out last July at the London 2012 Olympics, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter said, “There is racism and discrimination in our game, and that is wrong. We want to teach people that self-discipline, fair play and respect don’t just belong on the pitch, where there are rules and referees, but in our daily lives as well. We want to see people treating each other fairly, regardless of their religion, culture or the colour of their skin.”
The annual FIFA Anti-Discrimination Day is a chance to unite the football family and express its rejection of all forms of discrimination. At the same time, such sentiments should not just last a day, but must become a year-round reality.
FIFA’s position is enshrined in its official codes and statues. Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes states:
“Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people of account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”
Article 7 of the FIFA Code of Ethics and Article 58 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code further reinforces this position.
The first ever FIFA Anti-Discrimination Day was celebrated on 7 July, 2002, following the ratification of the resolution to fight racism at the Extraordinary Congress of FIFA in Buenos Aires in 2001. Since then a number of FIFA tournaments have taken the opportunity to mark the day by saying “No” to all forms of discrimination.