Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, a defeated candidate for the FIFA presidency in February, has declared FIFA's decision to disband its short-lived Anti-Racism Task Force "incredibly worrying" and "shameful."
News of world football's governing body announcing an end to its battle against discrimination surfaced late on Sunday, with FIFA claiming it had "completely fulfilled its temporary mission." The task force was established in 2013 by former president Sepp Blatter and ex-vice-president Jeffrey Webb, both of whom are currently banned from football activities due to corruption.
Under new president Gianni Infantino, however, a state of flux in the racism-combating group has now resulted in the dissolution of the collective, much to the displeasure of many in the game.
Al Hussein began his statement released on Monday:
Today's announcement that FIFA is disbanding its Anti-Racism Task Force, considering its work done, is incredibly worrying. The fight against racism is far from over and the notion that the current FIFA leadership believes that the "task force's recommendations have been implemented" is shameful. Never has the need to combat racism and racial discrimination been more evident in the world we live in today. Football is the most popular sport in the world and one of the only practical means to help the people of our world heal their differences, but we cannot begin without first addressing in real terms the racial differences and discrimination that are very real, and apparent, faced by our football associations, players and fans. It is not something that any governing body with any semblance of responsibility can downplay or deny.
The controversial decision comes ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, a country that has been plagued by well-documented discriminatory behaviour in the sport for some time. It is due to these issues, and other notable cases around the world, that Al Hussein believes the task force should be a permanent fixture in FIFA, rather than one that was forged but never even met with one another.
"We never had a single meeting under (Infantino's) chairmanship," task force member Osasu Obayiuwana said. "I wrote (to) him, more than once, asking for when a meeting would be held. But I never received a reply from him."
Instead, a letter was received by the task force representatives on Friday revealing the termination of the anti-racism group, stating that an anti-discrimination monitoring system at games, the inception of a "Good Practice Guide," and coining a diversity award were counted among its achievements and marked a job well done.
Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out released the following statement in reaction to FIFA's decision:
This comes at a time when there is clear evidence that discrimination, prejudice and hate are on the rise in developed societies.
Organisations that are actively campaigning against racism and discrimination will be deeply disheartened to hear news of the disbandment, as they look to FIFA for leadership in a game which is so popular across the world.
Without the support of the Anti-Racism Task Force, FIFA attests it still has "zero tolerance" towards discrimination and will continue to combat examples of this appalling behaviour in the global game.