News / Europe

UN: Kick Racism Out of Sports

AC Milan's Kevin Prince Boateng (L), wearing a jersey against racism, and Stephan El Shaarawy warm up before their match against Siena in Milan Jan. 6, 2013.
AC Milan's Kevin Prince Boateng (L), wearing a jersey against racism, and Stephan El Shaarawy warm up before their match against Siena in Milan Jan. 6, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
The United Nations is urging an end to what it calls the crime of racism in sport.   The global body is joining forces with football (soccer) officials and players in an effort to kick racism out of "the beautiful game."  The trigger for this move was the defiant action of AC Milan's midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng who walked off the pitch during an exhibition match in January to protest racist taunts.  
 
A video clip captures the sports announcer's disbelief at the sight of AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng, followed by his teammates, walking off the football pitch.  They were protesting the racist insults hurled at the midfielder during a friendly match against Italian lower division club Pro-Patria.
 
Boateng is not apologetic for ending the game after 25 minutes of play.  
 
"I interrupted the game and kicked the ball into the stands because I was angry and offended by the racist insults that were coming from the crowd. The report that the entire AC Milan team had presented a resolute and united front against racist abuse made headline news all over the world.  This is the reason why I am here today," he said. 
 
Boateng is one of several football players and officials invited by the United Nations to participate in a panel discussion on the elimination of racial discrimination, with a focus on sport.  The 26-year old footballer was born in Berlin of a Ghanaian father and German mother.  He plays for the Ghanaian National team.
 
Boateng says he does not regret his action because racism, if left alone, does not go away.  It has to be confronted or it will spread.  
 
"I just think we have to stand up against it every time.  If it is a championship final or a World Cup final  or just a friendly game-how we say against a team of the fourth division.  So-again we come to the point.  I hope I will never have to do it again.  But, if it was a final, I would have done the same," he said. 
 
Legendary midfielder and former captain of the French national football team, Patrick Vieira, supports Boateng.  He says racism is unacceptable and has no place on the pitch.
 
"I think when you look back at how things were and how things are today, I think him walking outside of the field improved the situation…and I think him walking out is a massive step and that is why we are going forward," he said. 
 
Nevertheless, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay notes the world continues to witness deeply unpleasant acts during sporting events, including during football matches.  
 
"They have included insults, offensive chants, Nazi salutes, petitions against hiring certain players and even systematic denial of opportunities to play or join football teams based on color or nationality.  These deplorable acts of bigotry and prejudice have no place in the 21st century.  They are an affront to human rights," he said. 
 
Pillay calls racism a gross human rights violation.  She says it is a crime and must be treated as such by sports authorities.
 
Union of Europe Football Associations (UEFA) Adviser, William Gaillard agrees.  He says UEFA has a zero tolerance policy for racism and discrimination.  He adds his organization singles out and sanctions behavior deemed inappropriate in a football stadium.  
 
"And, we are proud of it.  Racism, anti-Semitism, gender discrimination, homophobia are just as unacceptable on the football pitch as they are in society at large," he said. 
 
Gaillard argues football administrators have a duty to fight the evils of racism, but he does not offer any specific measures for doing so.  
 
Federico Addiechi, head of social responsibility programs for FIFA, the international governing body of football, says FIFA is establishing an anti-racism task force to deter racism.  As part of the program, he says the task force will seek to educate fans and inspire positive attitudes and behavior throughout the game.  
 
"We know fines are not and may not be enough.  Deducting points from a team could send a very strong message.  Relegating or eliminating a team from a competition can send an even stronger message.  If you tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism, you will face the consequences.  This is the message that players need us as football authorities to send," he said. 
 
The members of the task force say football does not need more rules and most governments do not need more laws to tackle racism in sport.  What is lacking, they say, is greater will by football authorities and governments to enforce the measures already on the books.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs