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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid