FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb spoke after the IFAB General Annual General Meeting about his new role as the head of FIFA’s Anti-Racism Taskforce, announced by the FIFA President yesterday, following the recent meeting of the FIFA Strategic Committee.
Q: What is the role and scope of this new taskforce?
A: 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: Do you think football has done enough to tackle racism, in particular?
A: President Blatter at the Strategic Committee said we’ve been talking a long time about these issues, but now we have to look at this issue again. Players have clearly not been supported enough, and this is a travesty. Players work hard, the game is their life, their occupation, and we need to do more to support them.
Q: You mentioned fines. Should they be stronger?
A: Fines have clearly not acted as a deterrent and are not working. We need to engage clubs, member associations, some NGOs and campaign groups, and then if there are consecutive infringements, punishments have to follow.
I can’t say what I would do if I was a player who was abused on the pitch. But what would happen if a player was being abused in the World Cup final? We have to find some solutions.
Q: Why do you think there has been a resurgence of racism in the game globally?
A: 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?
A: 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.
I have very good relations with The FA in England, and I will visit their Chairman and their Equality team shortly.
The mood in the Strategic Committee was that ‘enough is enough’. We have to try and get to the root of why such behaviour exists, and by speaking to different people across the game, I hope we can affect change, change behaviour, and also ensure that people have an equality of opportunity to get involved at whatever level in the game.
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