FIFA’s Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination met in Zurich earlier this week (2 December) and announced that it will introduce new measures to fight discrimination in the global game and will train and employ anti-discrimination officers for future competitions.
In other issues, Tuesday’s Task Force meeting also discussed the under-representation of ethnic minorities in roles of coaching and administration.
Inaction during World Cup 2014
The full support of FIFA appeared to be lacking in June when it did not sanction reported incidents of discriminatory chants and banners, and fans wearing black-face makeup.
Football’s governing body was heavily criticised after not responding to several discriminatory incidents that were reported during the FIFA World cup in June in Brazil. The Fare network published a monitoring report listing incidents of homophobic abuse, racism, and references to far- right ideologies brought to the stadiums by visiting fans
Earlier this year, Jeffrey Webb, who is Chair of the anti racism task force, FIFA vice-president and head of the confederation covering the Caribbean, North and Central America (CONCACAF), voiced harsh criticism against his own organisation for failing to take action against homophobic chanting and neo-Nazi banners being displayed at World Cup matches.
Action plan and zero tolerance
The Task Force agreed on the importance of using the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as a platform to raise awareness on the issue and showcase FIFA’s zero-tolerance policy against any form of discrimination.
The Task Force presented a concrete action plan to strengthen monitoring and evidence-finding mechanisms to tackle discriminatory incidents in football under FIFA’s jurisdiction, including the appointment and training of anti-discrimination officers for the forthcoming internationals.
Further measures in the fight against discrimination include the publication of a good practice guide that will be distributed to all 209 FIFA member associations in 2015 on how to foster diversity and anti-discrimination in football in their countries. The handbook will include information and best practice on policy, education, sanctions and cooperation with civil society partners.
Webb said in a statement: “Both measures send out a concrete message. Now we need the full support from clubs, member associations, NGOs and campaign groups.”
Under-representation of ethnic minorities
On the agenda of the meeting was also the gross under-representation of ethnic minorities in roles of coaching and administration worldwide. A report, Ethnic Minorities in Coaching in Elite Level Football, published by the Fare network in conjunction with the Sports People’s Think Tank (SPTT) has found that only 19 ethnic minority coaches are employed in 552 positions across 92 professional clubs, just 3.4% of the roles available.
Piara Powar, Fare Executive Director, said about the meeting: “It was a very mature and intense debate, which is a good sign: it means that the Task Force is getting beneath the skin of the issues that face us. This bodes well in terms of getting a clear direction to football around the globe, which in the end is what FIFA is about.”