FIFA anti-racism chief says victims not supported
FIFA’s new anti-racism chief plans to talk with high-profile
offenders on the pitch as he sets about formulating tougher
sanctions after claiming the victims have been let down by football
A spate of racial abuse cases among players and fans in recent
years has led to FIFA President Sepp Blatter this week appointing
Vice President Jeffrey Webb to head a task force to tackle the
”We’ve been talking for a long time in football (about racism)
and I don’t really think that we’ve supported the players,” Webb
said on Saturday. ”I don’t think we’ve necessarily put the right
sanctions in place to support them. It’s a travesty that it comes
Some fines imposed by FIFA have been seen as too lenient. FIFA
fined Bulgaria and Hungary in January around $40,000 each for
racist and anti-Semitic abuse by their fans.
”I really don’t think that financial instruments in today’s
world are enough to deal with it,” Webb, who heads CONCACAF, said
on the sidelines of a meeting of football’s rule-makers in
Edinburgh. ”With the money that’s involved in football today, the
fines that are being established, I don’t think they’re working,
Blatter has previously said point deductions and relegation
punishments are needed as disciplinary options to help deal with
discrimination at matches.
The heaviest bans for racist abuse by players have come in
England. Liverpool striker Luis Suarez served an eight-match ban
for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra during a
match and Chelsea captain John Terry was suspended for four games
for hurling insults at Anton Ferdinand at Queens Park Rangers.
Webb plans to make a fact-finding trip to England where he hopes
to speak to players, including Suarez, Terry, Evra and
”I will be meeting with the FA chairman David Bernstein and
visiting the FA,” Webb said. ”At that time I would also like to
meet with some of the players, perhaps have a round-table
discussion to talk to the players and get their input, get some
suggestions from them and learn from what their experiences are.
There’s a number of players who have been victimized, targeted.
Plus we would like to hear both sides really.”
Bernstein is pleased that FIFA is recognizing the need to tackle
discrimination in football.
”It is vitally important football’s governing bodies share
experiences and knowledge if we are to properly tackle this
issue,” said Bernstein, who was at Saturday’s International
Football Association Board meeting with Webb.
The anti-racism task force was established by Blatter after AC
Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng led his teammates off the
pitch when he was racially abused during a friendly against Italian
fourth-tier side Pro Patria in January.
Webb’s panel will have at least six members and he will present
his initial findings to the FIFA Congress in May.
Webb, who is from the Cayman Islands, has concerns about the
lack of opportunities for black players in higher levels of
”I played football and I wanted to go into administration,” he
said. ”Some players … might want to go into management. Sol
Campbell might want to be the next coach for Arsenal. Do they
really have that opportunity?”
”We as a football family, overall, have to sit down and take a
look in the mirror,” Webb added. ”What happens to the players
after they finish playing? Do they really have a chance at being a
professional manager? Do people of color really have a chance to
become executive directors of various clubs and boards?”
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris