2006 FIFA World Cup against racism
Joseph Blatter, Franz Beckenbauer, Wolfgang Schäuble and South African civil rights activist Tokyo Sexwale joined forces on Wednesday in Berlin to promote a campaign against discrimination and racism, which includes statements condemning all forms of discrimination read by the team captains on the field of play directly before kick-off in the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals on Friday and Saturday.
The FIFA President described racism as "a Devil", underlining football's "societal responsibility. Racism is society's problem, and not a problem typical of football," Blatter declared. "But we must ensure our sport isn't destroyed by racism from within. The foundation is respect for every participant."
Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble declared himself extremely satisfied with the FIFA World Cup in Germany to date. Schäuble described the tournament as "a programme against racism", and spoke of "a wave of passion and enthusiasm, not for any specific team, but for togetherness among all fans". The mood in Germany since the beginning of the World Cup had "recognisably changed. We cannot simply leave the fight against racism and Nazism to the Police. It must stem from the heart of society. FIFA's commitment is a shining example."
Organising Committee President Franz Beckenbauer praised fans for celebrating together regardless of nationality, cultural background or skin colour. "When I survey the fans celebrating at the festivals, then I believe I'm looking at what the Good Lord always intended."
Directly before kick-off in this Friday's quarter-final between Germany and Argentina at the Berlin Olympic stadium, Michael Ballack will take the microphone to read a statement confirming that "every man in our team rejects racism and every form of discrimination". Argentina captain Juan Pablo Sorin will then call on "all fans watching us today to help eradicate discrimination from our societies". The teams will then join together for a photo behind a "Say No to Racism" banner. Starting with the Opening Match, the slogan has been displayed before every game on a banner laid out in the centre-circle.
FIFA has announced new, strict penalties in the event of racially-motivated incidents. Article 55 of the world governing body's disciplinary code will be enforced at national association level, including the potential for "drastic steps", according to Blatter. The toughest theoretical sanction against a national association would be expulsion from FIFA. Article 55 stipulates that every stadium visitor who publicly insults or discriminates against another person based on race, skin colour, language, religion or ethnicity will receive a stadium ban for at least five matches. Should the penalty be infringed or not applied, the offence will be punished with a 6,300 fine and a two-year stadium banning order.
South African civil rights activist Tokyo Sexwale, who spent 12 years in Robben Island prison under the Apartheid regime but now works for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee, asked a rhetorical question of the news conference at the Berlin Olympic stadium: "Which football fan of sound mind would want to separate Eto'o and Beckham, Rooney and Drogba or Franz Beckenbauer and Pele?"