With the aim of recognising an outstanding organisation, group initiative or personality that is standing up for diversity and anti-discrimination in football, FIFA will inaugurate the FIFA Diversity Award in July 2016. The date will also mark the 15th anniversary of the passing of the resolution against racism and discrimination at the Extraordinary FIFA Congress in Buenos Aires in 2001. The annual award, announced today as the United Nations celebrates the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, is among the recommendations made in 2013 by the FIFA Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination, which are now in their implementation phase.
“The FIFA Statutes are unequivocal – there is no place for any kind of discrimination in football. We have started to work with special match observers to help us punish breaches of conduct in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. However, another important element of fighting discrimination is proactive work and educational initiatives that foster and celebrate diversity in all its forms,” says FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “The FIFA Diversity Award will pay tribute to those who are dedicated to that goal and, ultimately, to guaranteeing that football sticks to its core values of solidarity and fair play”.
*“11 for Diversity”: Moya Dodd, Tokyo Sexwale, Jaiyah Saelua and Gerald Asamoah are the first jury members to be appointed *
An impressive jury of 11 members comprising prominent figures from global football and experts in diversity will be responsible for choosing the three finalists and ultimate winner of the FIFA Diversity Award. This high-profile and diverse jury will include people from different backgrounds in the field of anti-discrimination, whether it is related to ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason.
“Football is a global and unique convening power. It bridges culture, class and creed like nothing else. It helps us rise above our prejudices to realise our commonality and our humanity,” says the chairwoman of the FIFA Task Force for Women’s Football, Moya Dodd, who is among the jury members already confirmed. “I'm delighted to be a part of this new FIFA award, which recognises and celebrates outstanding instances of diversity and non-discrimination.”
In the field of anti-racism, the jury will be represented by anti-apartheid activist and founder of Global Watch, Tokyo Sexwale. The former freedom fighter from South Africa and contemporary of Nelson Mandela is also the chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine. “Racism and discrimination is a society problem. If we don’t stand up, if we allow racism to overpower sport, we will be doomed to existence in a hostile world,” says Sexwale.
Jaiyah Saelua, one of the Fa’afafine or “third gender” people specific to Samoan culture, has also accepted the invitation to be on the jury for the FIFA Diversity Award. Saelua is believed to be the first transgender player ever to participate in a FIFA World Cup™ qualifier.
“I proudly accept these duties and I promise to do my best to help choose a winner. Knowing that each nominee may be highly deserving of the award will make our jobs difficult, but I am sure that this award will inspire more and more people from around the world to make positive changes for their communities, organisations, and most especially for the sport,” says Saelua.
After moving to Europe from Ghana aged 12, Gerald Asamoah went on to become the first African-born black player to represent Germany, playing at two FIFA World Cups™. At the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015 in January, he received the FIFA Fair Play Award on behalf of all of the football associations and clubs around the world that are working to support refugees. Now, as a jury member of the FIFA Diversity Award, he has taken on a new special assignment.
“I know first-hand what it’s like to arrive in a foreign country and be accepted, and that’s why committing to a cause like the FIFA Diversity Award makes perfect sense for me. There are many good projects all around the world to foster diversity and anti-discrimination, so it is great that FIFA wants to highlight the best of them.”