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Webb pushes for FIFA racism reform

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The head of FIFA's anti-discrimination task force, CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, says he remains committed to pushing through reforms ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Speaking via telephone, Webb told how disappointed he was that FIFA's Disciplinary Committee failed to sanction a variety of discrimination-related incidents at the World Cup, including Mexico fans directing slurs at opposing goalkeepers, Germany fans in black face at a match against Ghana, and Croatia fans displaying far right symbols.

Webb had also proposed back in March that there be trained anti-discrimination officers deployed in Brazil, but FIFA declined, saying there wasn't enough time to train all the necessary staff.

"I honestly believe that we had an opportunity," said Webb. "FIFA is saying that unfortunately with the many issues that we were facing in Brazil, we were unable to have the training and put the necessary processes in place. I think it's very unfortunate. We've moved on. Let's just now prepare and make sure we have them in place going forward. Let's get the integrity officers trained and have them at matches that have high-risk. Then let's make sure we have them in place so this doesn't happen again."

Webb added that the task force intends to launch a massive education campaign that will include working with the various committees that will oversee the World Cup in 2018.

"I think it starts and ends with education," he said. "I'm 100 percent sure that at the next World Cup we'll have the match integrity officers in place for the games. And of course we'll have a match protocol in place for the games, and definitely some of the things we've seen here [in Brazil] hopefully won't happen.

"There must be a cohesive [plan] between all aspects, from FIFA, the local organizing committee, from various sub-committees. Everyone has to be on board. Everyone has to understand their responsibility in the fight against racism."

At a recent media conference, the disagreements between Webb and Claudio Sulser, the head of FIFA's Disciplinary Committee were laid bare, with Sulser insisting that the incidents that took place during the World Cup didn't rise to the level where sanctions were necessary. Webb said the best way to eliminate that disconnect was to make sure there was continued communication between his task force and the Disciplinary Committee.

"Perhaps going forward that there be more of an integration between the Disciplinary Committee and the person making the report instead of the Disciplinary Committee making those decisions blindly," he said. "Perhaps there needs to be more representation [from the task force]. We have in the past engaged the Disciplinary Committee chairman. He has attended the Racism Committee Task Force meetings, and that's something we have to continue and have more dialogue."


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