Fifa says anti-racism taskforce had ‘completed work’

Fifa has defended its decision to scrap an anti-racism taskforce, saying it had completed the work it set out to do.

The Fifa Taskforce Against Racism and Discrimination was set up in 2013 to develop recommendations for tackling the issue.

Critics have questioned the dismantling of the group, saying racism is ongoing.

But Fifa General Secretary Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura said: “The taskforce had a specific mandate, which it has fully fulfilled.”

Former taskforce member Osau Obayiuwana told the Associated Press: “I wish I could say I am shocked by the decision, but unfortunately I am not.

“I personally think there remained a lot of very serious work for the taskforce to have done – the 2018 World Cup in Russia being one such matter. But it is evident the Fifa administration takes a different position.”

Speaking at the Soccerex global football conference, Samoura explained that the group’s recommendations had now been turned into a “strong programme” to tackle racism.

Responding to criticism of the decision, the general secretary of football’s world governing body 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 at the convention in Manchester on Monday.

The anti-racism taskforce was established by then 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 their Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven as punishment for the racist behaviour of their fans.

Uefa says fans in Rostov-on-Don, one of the host cities for the 2018 World Cup, were guilty of unspecified offences during their play-off victory against Ajax on 24 August.

Former Fifa presidential candidate Tokyo Sexwale had used his speech before Gianni Infantino was elected as Blatter’s replacement in February to call for the group to become a permanent committee.

“Racism is going to be with us for a long, long time,” Sexwale, a former anti-apartheid activist, said at the time. “It can’t just be a committee that comes ad hoc.”

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