Global Watch to ‘red-card racism in sport’

22 July 2014

South African activist, politician and businessman Tokyo Sexwale was joined by former, former cricket administrator Ali Bacher and Comrades Marathon legend Bruce Fordyce at the Johannesburg launch of a new global initiative to tackle discrimination in sport on Monday.

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 of Qatar, and driven by a partnership between the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Doha Goals Forum Foundation and the Sexwale Foundation.

“The key thing about Global Watch is that it provides South Africans with a unique opportunity to talk about racism and what this country went through,” Sexwale said at Monday’s launch.

“South Africa must be seen to be taking a lead in this. It is a platform to say, ‘We have been there. Don’t start. Don’t throw bananas at players. Don’t make comments about the Williams sisters. Keep racism off your playing fields.

“We see Global Watch as a Nelson Mandela legacy project,” Sexwale said, adding that the Doha Foundation had got involved because it would be hosting the 2022 Fifa World Cup and was committed to addressing racism in sports.

According to the Mandela 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.

“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 and the entire Barcelona Football Club squad have welcomed the initiative,” the foundation said in a statement.

African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, who was also present at the launch, said that racism in sport “kills talent … As South Africans we know how [racism] can destroy people, therefore it is our responsibility to support this programme.

“Black players get insulted from the pavilions. It happens everywhere. We must red-card racism in sports,” Mantashe said.

Comrades Marathon legend Fordyce said the Marathon, in its early days, “was known for not being open to people of colour or to women. It was not until 1975 that it was open. We have made huge strides since then, and now the race is a wonderful example to the world.”

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SAinfo reporter