FIFA's Anti-Discrimination Mechanisms
It is good that FIFA has and exercises mechanisms to counter the problem of degrading treatment, such as chants, against those who identify as homosexual. For example, FIFA disciplined the following countries for “homophobic chants” by spectators at qualifying matches leading up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Serbia, and Uruguay.55
Through exercise of such mechanisms, FIFA can continue its efforts to end discrimination based on sexual identity without fostering new forms of discrimination such as discrimination against people with particular political viewpoints or religious beliefs, as the U.S Soccer Federation, the Football Association of Ireland, and the Football Association of England did in requiring all players to wear the political LGBT rainbow on the kit. As the FIFA Good Practice Guide on Diversity and Anti-Discrimination explains,
“Equality in diversity means that nobody puts his or her own personal freedom above that of anyone else’s. Diversity blooms when nobody uses his or her own freedom to repress or exclude anybody else.”
FIFA’s structure for “the promotion of diversity and anti-discrimination in football” has five pillars:
Controls and sanctions
Networking and cooperation
This broad approach offers many avenues to continue fighting against discrimination against those who identify as homosexual. Therefore, requiring all players to support a political symbol is not necessary to continue these efforts.
As we read in the FIFA “Good Practice Guide on Diversity and Anti-Discrimination,” “the qualities being encouraged here are very human: showing dignity, kindness and empathy.”
These qualities are all a two-way street. Teams should not demand “dignity, kindness and empathy” for advocates of LGBT causes while denying “dignity, kindness and empathy” to those who have different viewpoints on these issues.
It is a social reality that soccer players, officials, and spectators have many different political views, some in opposition to the views of others. We need to be mindful that dignity, kindness, and empathy are not just for any one group of people, but rather need to include all, regardless of political views or belief systems.
This blog post is page 21 of the 2019 report, "Let All Play: Yes to Soccer, No to Politics." CLICK to read the full report.