Fifa has defended its decision to scrap an anti-racism taskforce after critics branded the move “a bad signal” and “disheartening”.
The Fifa Taskforce Against Racism and Discrimination was set up in 2013 to develop recommendations to tackle it.
Fifa general secretary Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura said: “The taskforce had a specific mandate, which it has fully fulfilled.”
But anti-discrimination group Kick it Out was “perplexed” by Fifa’s decision.
In a statement, it said: “This comes at a time when there is clear evidence that discrimination, prejudice and hate are on the rise in developed societies.
“Organisations that are actively campaigning against racism and discrimination will be deeply disheartened to hear news of the disbandment, as they look to Fifa for leadership in a game which is so popular across the world.”
Kick it Out chairman Lord Ousley added: “The reality is that racism is alive and well right across Europe and in other parts of the world.”
Hope not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles told the BBC that the decision to wind up the taskforce sent out “a really bad signal”.
Both Lord Ouseley and Lowles also questioned what Fifa planned to do to tackle racism in the future, while former taskforce member Osau Obayiuwana there “remained a lot of very serious work for the taskforce to have done”.
Speaking at the Soccerex global football conference in Manchester on Monday, Samoura claimed the taskforce’s recommendations had been turned into a “strong programme” to tackle racism.
She added: “My presence here is a demonstration that Fifa has a zero tolerance policy against discrimination, not only racism but any kind of discrimination, including violation of human rights.”
Samoura will present Fifa’s first Diversity Award later on Monday.
The anti-racism taskforce was established by former Fifa president Sepp Blatter and headed by Jeffrey Webb until he was arrested in 2015 as part of an investigation into corruption.
Its recommendations included introducing extra observers at games and tough penalties for clubs whose players, officials or fans are guilty of racism.
Earlier this month, European football’s governing body Uefa ordered Russian club FC Rostov to close a section of their stadium for a Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven as punishment for racist behaviour of their fans.
Uefa said fans in Rostov-on-Don, one of the host cities for the 2018 Fifa World Cup, were guilty of unspecified offences during their play-off victory against Dutch side Ajax on 24 August.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37470473