Sepp Blatter launches the latest Show Racism the Red Card DVD at the Confederations Cup in South Africa
Young people will then have all the time in the world to discuss this subject
Tony Higgins, FIFPro
FIFPro nails its colours to the mast. Taking advantage of the 2009 Confederations Cup, and the FIFPro Division Africa Congress held on 23 and 24 June in Johannesburg, the international professional footballers' union has launched its own campaign to Show Racism the Red Card, aimed particularly at African countries.
In the presence of 70 young South Africans wearing FIFPro colours, who didn't hesitate to question the various personalities present, FIFA President Joseph Sepp Blatter of course saluted the Show Racism the Red Card initiative and threw his weight behind it, but he considered a red card “insufficient”, as were economic penalties.
“If it's proved that there has been a racist act on the pitch (...), there's only one solution: a deduction of points or elimination from the competition”, he declared in the presence of Issa Hayatou, President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), at the opening of the FIFPro Africa Division Congress.
These penalties are provided for in the FIFA regulations, and FIFA applies them in its own competitions.
“But it isn't for us to impose them on others”, said Jérôme Champagne, FIFA's Director of International Relations.
“If a confirmed racist action occurs during the Champions League, for example, it's for UEFA to decide whether to apply its own penalties or those provided for in the FIFA regulations. The same thing applies to the various national championships.”
As part of the anti-racism campaign, a new DVD will be distributed to associations, clubs and schools in Africa, accompanied by messages from players like Thierry Henry and Louis Saha (France), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon), Dirk Kuyt (Netherlands), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Dimitar Berbatov (Bulgaria), Mido (Egypt) and Rio Ferdinand (England).
“Young people will then have all the time in the world to discuss this subject”, said Tony Higgins, who has headed FIFPro's anti-discrimination division for many years.
Didier Drogba, Vice-President of the newly created Ivorian players' union, joined the others in saying, “Show racism the red card”, before adding that, “The most important thing is to do everything to get respect”.
The former player Anthony Baffoe, the first Ghanaian footballer to pursue his career in Europe and now Secretary-General of the Ghanaian Football Players' Union, which he helped create, spoke of his experience of racism in response to a question from one of the young footballers present.
“I fought, mostly to show my scorn, but that isn't a weapon everyone can use against the attacks, sometimes extremely violent ones, of those who trade in racism”, he said.
The FIFPro initiative was followed by the reading of a declaration against racism by the captains of the teams playing in the two semi-finals of the Confederations Cup on 24 and 25 June (Spain v USA, and Brazil v South Africa, respectively).
Adapted from www.fifpro.org