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FIFA's action against racism 'long overdue'

02 June 2013, 16:20

Lagos - Soccer pundits on Sunday lauded FIFA’s definite anti-racism action against clubs that flouted the order saying the decision was long overdue and must be strictly implemented.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that FIFA, world football’s governing body passed the anti-racism resolution with a 99 per cent majority at its congress in Mauritius.

Jeffrey Webb, head of FIFA’s anti-racism task force, said the decision was “a defining moment”.

Webb had announced that: “Our football family is fully aware that what is reported in the media is actually less than one per cent of the incidents that happen around the world.

“We’ve got to take action so that when we look to the next 20 or 50 years, this will be the defining time that we took action against racism and discrimination.”

Under the anti-racism rule, teams could be relegated or expelled from competitions for serious incidents of racism after tough new powers were voted in by FIFA.

First or minor offences will result in either a warning, fine or order for a match to be played behind closed doors.

Serious or repeat offences can now be punished by points’ deduction, expulsion or relegation.

Pundits in interviews with NAN described racism in football as a cankerworm that had destroyed countless talented young footballers in their prime age and mostly from Africa.    

Felix Owolabi, an ex-international, said that FIFA's new sanction was long overdue and also called for more sanction on any team found guilty of racism.

"This is good, FIFA has done well, even though they should have done this earlier than this, anyway its better late than never.

"I feel any team found guilty should be out of the competition. I think it’s coming at a time where so many black players playing in Europe gets bashed.

"The law should be made binding irrespective of who is found guilty,'' Owolabi said.

Fatai Amoo, a former Coach of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan, said that it was an appropriate decision and racism in football has thrived for so long, it needed to be curbed.

''For me it is appropriate, it's been going on for a long time and needs to stop.

''We are all one and we need to embrace that. It is a free world and everyone is equal," he said.

Amoo, however, added that he hopes the sanction would be effective because the teams and fans involved needed to be punished for the negative act.

''I support the sanction fully as long as it goes through effectively, they need to learn and racism has to be roped out," he added.

Paul Hamilton, a former Super Eagles and Super Falcons Coach, described racism as a complex issue and therefore hard to eradicate not only in soccer but in all other sports.

''It is a difficult practice to get rid of, but if FIFA should put these new laws into full swing it might just work.

''So, let us hope that it is effective for a start, but it is a good step taken by FIFA," Hamilton said.

Bright Omokaro, former Eagles strong man in defence, said that FIFA is responsible for the law and it has the power to bind or dole out any punishment against any erring team.

'' FIFA has the right to lay out any form of punishment they deem fit for any team that flouted the rule so long as it is in their jurisdiction.

''This punishment can only be made prominent by proper execution," Omokaro added.

It was gathered that concern was raised over those who voted against the tougher racism measures.

Former South African apartheid prisoner Tokyo Sexwale, now a FIFA member, urged congress to check cameras to see who voted against racism rules.

"The one per cent vote against, demonstrates how football still has to fight against racism.

"I would like to think it was a mistake but I’m glad it wasn’t the other way. I’m glad only one per cent went that way,” Webb said of the vote against the measures.

Nonetheless, FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, accepted more must be done to eradicate racism.


Tags fifa football

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