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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora