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SBD Global/March 4, 2013/International Football

Blatter Says FIFA Will Set Up Anti-Racism Task Force Headed By Jeffrey Webb

CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb will head FIFA's anti-racism task force.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter revealed the organization is establishing a task force to deal with racism in football, according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. Blatter said that the task force would be headed by CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb. Football has been "blighted by a never-ending series of racist incidents from fans especially in eastern Europe, often met with derisory fines and punishments amounting to little more than a slap on the wrist." However, this week UEFA "finally took some stricter measures" by ordering Italian club Lazio to play its next two European home matches behind closed doors because of repeated racism from supporters and fined the club €40,000 ($52,000) (REUTERS, 3/1). The AP reported Blatter is calling for a “united front of the football community in our zero-tolerance policy against racism.” Blatter: “We have to work on it but we cannot do it alone. It is a big, big problem also of education and understanding, and [needs] a little bit also of solidarity" (AP, 3/2). In London, Andrew Warshaw wrote Webb wants to meet John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Luis Suarez after expressing "huge concern" about controversial recent incidents in the Premier League. Webb wants "first-hand insight into its resurgence in the English game." Webb met FA Chair David Bernstein in Edinburgh for more than an hour Friday. He said that black players had been "sorely let down by the authorities." Webb: "Football has been talking for a long time but we have not been sufficiently supporting the players" (DAILY MAIL, 3/2).

WEBB ANSWERS QUESTIONS:

Q:
What is the role and scope of this new taskforce?
Jeffrey Webb: There are two main elements as I see it. Firstly we'll be reviewing the current sanctions for anti-discrimination. The second is an education process, where I want to engage players, the broader football community and NGOs.

Q: Why do you think there has been a resurgence of racism in the game globally?
Webb: I don't know. Just because racism exists in society, it doesn't mean we have to tolerate it. As a football family we have to sit down, and look at ourselves in the mirror. Do people of colour really have the chance, or equal opportunity to coach or become involved in football administration? I want to have the chance to sit down with players, people who have been victimised, and listen to their experiences.

Q: What are the next steps for your taskforce?
Webb: The plan is for more concrete proposals to be discussed and formalised at the Executive Committee on 20 and 21 March. I would hope for the Taskforce to comprise representatives from FIFA's six Confederations, and also to involve some campaign groups, who have been fighting to eradicate discrimination for many, many years (FIFA).
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