FIFA to set up anti-racism Task Force

EDINBURGH Sat Mar 2, 2013 3:39am IST

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks during a news conference in St. Petersburg January 20, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk/Files

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks during a news conference in St. Petersburg January 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk/Files

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - FIFA is establishing a task force to deal with racism in soccer, the president of the world governing body Sepp Blatter said on Friday.

Blatter, speaking to reporters in Edinburgh ahead of Saturday's International Board meeting, said the task force would be headed by Jeffrey Webb, president of the CONCACAF confederation of north and central American and Caribbean countries

Football has been blighted by a never-ending series of racist incidents from fans especially in eastern Europe, often met with derisory fines and punishments amounting to little more than a slap on the wrist.

However, this week European soccer's governing body UEFA finally took some stricter measures by ordering Italian club Lazio to play their next two European home matches behind closed doors because of repeated racism from supporters and fined the club 40,000 euros.

This season Lazio fans have been involved in anti-semitic incidents and racist gestures against Europa League opponets Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Moenchengladbach.

"We have a Strategy Committee and we will make a task force and I have a chairman for this task force - he is Jeffrey Webb, the president of CONCACAF." Blatter said.

"It is a big, big problem also of education and understanding. We cannot do it alone, but we will do it because we have to kick it out of the game."

The FIFA president will also meet AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng this month to discuss ways of tackling racism in the game.

Boateng made worldwide headlines when he led his team mates off the pitch in protest after being racially abused by fans of fourth-division Italian club Pro Patria during a friendly in January.

After the incident Blatter praised him for taking a "strong and courageous stand" but added that leaving the field "cannot be the solution".

(Editing by John Mehaffey)

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