FIFA’s decision to abandon prosecution in the case of alleged racist slur against England Under-17 striker Morgan Gibbs-White from a Spanish opponent confirms the organisation’s inability to tackle racism in and around the game, says ProBonoMatters, a Johannesburg based operation that monitors FIFA anti-discrimination initiatives.
FIFA announced this week that it is dropping the Gibbs-White case that occurred during the final of the Under-17 World Cup between Engalnd and Spain held in India last October. England striker Rhian Brewster reported overhearing teammate Gibbs-White being called a “monkey” by a Spanish opponent.
FIFA has concluded that there was lack of sufficient evidence to pursue the prosecution.
ProBonoMatters branded the decision as disgraceful and a confirmation of FIFA’s inability, if not resistance, to tackle racism. It said this development adds to a growing pile of evidence of FIFA’s (and associates’) refusal to deal with racism. UEFA recently ended two racism investigations also citing lack of verifiable evidence in a widely criticised decision. Borussia Dortmund forward Michy Batshuayi had reported racial abuse by fans of Italian club Atalanta. And Liverpool player Rhian Brewster had reported racial abuse from Spartak Moscow.
ProBonoMatters said people around the world are watching and wondering what will happen during the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia which is a hotbed of racist, ultra-nationalist and Neo-Nazis. “These anti-socials are also watching and will be propelled by FIFA’s inaction.”
Kick It Out chairperson Herman Ouseley said FIFA’s handling of the Gibbs-White case was “nothing short of a disgrace.” He added that “With this outcome, there has to be little confidence that FIFA can effectively deal with any potential incidents of racism and discrimination that may occur during this summer’s World Cup and that is not a prospect to fill anyone with confidence about what is in store in Russia this summer.”
FIFA has resolved to prosecute the Russian football association for a recent incident where French black players were subjected to monkey chants during an international friendly held in St Petersburg. The handling of the Gibbs-White case does not inspire confidence.
Ouseley said “It leaves questions unanswered such as how much more evidence is required than two people separately hearing and corroborating the alleged abuse, in order to be acceptable as sufficient
“Are they not believed as honest because of who they are? Who are the investigators and who makes such ridiculous decisions?
He asked if the committee reaching such ridiculous decision has representation from black communities. “Are any of these people competent with the personal experience of having suffered from racial abuse and discrimination?”