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Sport and society must work together to fight racism: UN’s Special Adviser on Sport

8 October 2013
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(Left) UN Special Adviser, Mr. Wilfried Lemke and UEFA President, Mr Michel Platini

Geneva (UNOSDP) – Organised by the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR), the eleventh session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (IGWG), held a special event on the pressing issue of ‘Racism in Football’.

Panellists at this event included UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr. Wilfried Lemke and the European Football Association’s (UEFA), President Michel Platini, and FIFA taskforce member, Tokyo Sexwale.

In her opening statement, Mona Rishmawi, Director Rule of Law, OHCHR outlined the progress made in many areas since the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action in 2001. But insisted that there is still much work to be done.

“Despite the adoption of the important United Nations documents to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, these old scourges reinvent themselves in new forms and manifestations, and we need to examine and find effective ways to uproot this heinous phenomenon.”

President Platini reassured campaigners and diplomats at the UN’s European Headquarters, that as the governing bodies of football UEFA and FIFA, “we have a duty of care to protect players against all forms of discrimination” .

As a positive move in the fight against racism, FIFA created an anti-racism taskforce in May 2013, this team is headed by the President of the North and Central American and Caribbean football federation, CONCACAF, Jeffrey Webb.

Webb addressed the panel over video and highlighted:

“We in the FIFA anti-discrimination taskforce are committed to eliminating racism on and off the pitch,”

In a final statement from the UN Special Adviser, he highlighted the societal responsibility, and roles  we play in applying zero tolerance to racism in sport and everyday life.

“Sport and society must work together to fight racism. Racism is a problem of society, of people, of governments, of schools, of homes and neighborhoods. Whether you are a politician, teacher or professional footballer, we all have a role in eliminating racism in sport.”


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