FIFA has chosen to dissolve its anti-racism task force. According to the Associated Press, the organization believes that the committee has “completely fulfilled its temporary mission.”
Surprisingly, one member of the task force doesn’t believe its goal had been accomplished:
“I wish I could say that I am shocked by the decision, but unfortunately I am not,” task force member Osasu Obayiuwana told The Associated Press on Sunday. “The problem of racism in football remains a burning, very serious and topical one, which need continuous attention.
“I personally think there remained a lot of very serious work for the task force to have done — the 2018 World Cup in Russia being one such matter. But it is evident the FIFA administration takes a different position.”
The task force was founded in 2013 by former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and aimed to take meaningful action against acts of discrimination beyond the odd “Say No To Racism” banner at matches or edict making a team with especially racist fans play in an empty stadium. Jeffrey Webb, former CONCACAF president and head of the task force, complained in 2014 about a lack of empowerment from the organization. (Webb was one of the FIFA officials arrested in Zurich by U.S. authorities in May 2015.)
The task force being shut down right now is superficially baffling, considering that the 2018 World Cup will be played in Russia; a study cited in the AP’s report recorded 92 “incidents of discriminatory displays and chants” from Russian fans at matches during the 2014-15 season.
However, given that FIFA has closed down the project, this must mean racism in international soccer no longer exists. Congratulations to everyone who helped.
H/t to Ben