FIFA have assisted with the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held during the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
At the invitation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, FIFA’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Federico Addiechi took part in a panel discussion on the theme “Racism and sport” and delivered a speech on behalf of FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter – who was unable to attend due to the meeting of the Executive Committee in Zurich -, in which he highlighted FIFA’s concrete commitment against all sorts of discrimination on and off the field.
"Despite the many victories we have won in football against discrimination and prejudice, we know we still have a problem today and we know more has to change," said Addiechi. "We have to step up our efforts, to keep fighting."
During the session, High Commissioner Pillay stressed the role of sport as a fundamental platform to convey positive messages in the fight against racism. She said: "Sport is, by essence, inclusive and multicultural. The time to kick racism out of football is now. There must be accountability for racist offences in sports."
Further representatives of international football who presented their views on discrimination were AC Milan’s midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, UEFA’s President Senior Adviser William Gaillard, Manchester City Football Development Executive Patrick Vieira, and the Executive Director of Football against Racism in Europe (FARE), Piara Power.
After hearing FIFA's speech, it's clear to me that we are moving in the right direction.
Boateng, who led team-mates off the field in protest over racist chants from fans during a friendly match of AC Milan in January, commented: "Normally, this shouldn't be the thing to do. FIFA is pushing very hard. Generally speaking, yes, players shouldn't walk off. But I hope the authorities will now take concrete action in the fight against racism.” Patrick Vieira, also present at the conference, asked for a strategic plan to combat racism. "After hearing FIFA's speech, it's clear to me that we are moving in the right direction," he opined.
The Ghana international is set to visit President Blatter at the Home of FIFA on Friday.
Boateng’s visit comes shortly after the appointment of CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb as the head of FIFA’s Anti-Discrimination Task Force, announced by the FIFA President in early March, following a meeting of the FIFA Strategic Committee.
Throughout the past months, FIFA’s bodies have imposed concrete measures to punish racist behavior, including a sanction that will see Hungary and Bulgaria playing tomorrow’s 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on home soil without spectators.
FIFA’s anti-discrimination stance is enshrined in its statutes. Article 3 states that “discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”