New global initiative to tackle racism in sport

2 June 2014

A new global initiative to tackle discrimination in sport will be launched in Doha, Qatar on Thursday by South African activist, politician and businessman Tokyo Sexwale, Sheikh Faisal bin Mubarak Al Thani of Qatar and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The initiative, named Global Watch: Say No To Racism-Discrimination In Sport, will be co-chaired by Sexwale and Sheikh Faisal bin Mubarak Al Thani, and driven by a partnership between the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Doha Goals Forum Foundation and the Sexwale Foundation.

Sexwale, a former Robben Island prisoner, African National Congress (ANC) leader and South African government minister, is also a member of world football governing body Fifa’s Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination.

Speaking at a United Nations forum on racism and football in Geneva, Switzerland in October, Sexwale said that Fifa was planning to create a “barometer” of countries which had problems with racism and discrimination in sport.

“The barometer is going to tell … that the conduct of your sporting people is bringing your country down,” Sexwale was quoted by various news agencies as saying. “I don’t think anybody here would like to be low on the barometer.”

The Mandela Foundation said in a statement on Friday that Global Watch would “build upon the hard work and long involvement of many organisations, large and small, across the world who on a daily basis are taking a stand against racism-discrimination”.

According to the foundation, the new initiative has been welcomed by Fifa, the International Olympics Committee and the UN Human Rights Commission, as well as high-profile leaders such as African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former US vice-president Al Gore, and former South African presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk.

“Leading international television personality Oprah Winfrey and sporting heroes such as renowned football icon Pele, former Bafana Bafana and Leeds captain Lucas Radebe, former Springbok rugby captain Francois Pienaar, former cricket supremo Ali Bacher and the entire Barcelona Football Club squad, have amongst others added their voices in welcoming the initiative.”

The foundation said that further details of the initiative, and of a summit to be held in Johannesburg later this year, would be provided at Thursday’s media briefing in Doha.

SAinfo reporter