If you've been taking in the World Cup this week, you probably noticed plenty of banners and commercials with FIFA telling you to just, "say no to racism." A great idea, except FIFA doesn't always follow its own message.
Just last year, FIFA formed an anti-racism task force, which would, ostensibly, be empowered to do more than just offer feel-good slogans. But the head of that task force, CONCACAF's Jeffrey Webb, has called out several failed opportunities to actually do something about racism and discrimination. Among them, as outlined by the Guardian:
- No action for racist chants by fans at a Croatian match. The Telegraph added that Croatian fans had a banner with the coat of arms "of a fascist regime under Nazi control during World War II" at their game versus Brasil.
- No action for racist chants at a Russian match. The Telegraph added that Russian fans at the match versus South Korea had banners with a variation of the Celtic Cross associated with Neo-Nazism and white supremacy.
- No action against Mexican fans chanting "puto" during their game against Cameroon.
- No action against fans in black face when Germany played Ghana.
Jumping to FIFA's defense? The FIFA executive in charge of handing down punishment.
Fifa's disciplinary committee chairman, Claudio Sulser, dismissed criticism of the decision not to take action over the "inappropriate" and "inconvenient' behaviour of fans. He said it was hard to prove cases that involved racist or homophobic behaviour by the crowd because it was not easy to tell which country the offenders were from.
In other words, it's not OK for Croatian defender Josip Šimunić to lead fans in a pro-Nazi chant. But Croatian fans doing a racist chant on their own? Well, FIFA can't prove they're Croatian.
What could be done? How about having officials at matches in charge of monitoring for possible hate speech, something proposed by Webb at the task force's very first meeting.
Having three people at each game to "spot and record evidence of anti-discriminatory behaviour" was proposed and then "knocked back," Webb told the Guardian. Even though European anti-racism network FARE said it had people ready to carry out such a proposal.
But you should still just say no to racism.