Football legend Eusebio returned to Africa today to launch FIFPro’s an anti-racism campaign in advance of World Cup 2010 in South Africa. FIFPro (FÃ©dÃ©ration Internationale des Footballeurs Professionels) the World professional footballers’ football union, organised the conference to announce its plan to tackle racism by utilising the impact of its high profile members that include 57,500 professional footballers around the World.
Eusebio – Portugal’s hero at the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England – praised the campaign and emphasised the responsibilities of professional players across the globe to battle against racism.
“FIFPro’s initiative here in South Africa is to be commended. Professional players are respected around the world they are listened to. With this fame and influence comes responsibility. I am delighted that the World’s top players are coming together in this way to tell the people of the World that racism must never be tolerated.”
Eusebio’s sentiments are echoed in a DVD presentation being played at the conference featuring football stars Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United and England International), Joe Cole (Chelsea and England midfielder), Fredi Kanoute (Sevilla UEFA Cup Winner and Mali International), Damien Duff (Newcastle United and Republic of Ireland winger) and Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur and Ireland Captain) speaking out against discrimination and racism in football and the wider society.
Tokyo Sexwale, chairperson of companies, former freedom fighter, member of the Local Organising Committee of the World Cup 2010, member of the FIFA Say No To Racism, who served alongside Nelson Mandela on Robben Island prison said, “The world has many inequalities but to judge and think badly of a person because of the colour of his skin is one of the most vile, ignorant and reprehensible forms of discrimination. We applaud FIFPro and all its 57,500 members around the world in taking a stand, NO TO RACISM and any forms of discrimination, especially in football. We in South Africa have defeated apartheid and discrimination and the rest of the world can draw sense from this experience.”
Also making a special presentation is Former Charlton player Shaun Bartlett, now with South African team Kaizer Chiefs. Plus Fran Gavin, Vice-President of the PFAI (Players’ Football Association of Ireland) and Vice Chair of FIFPro’s committee on addressing racism will present the conference with details of the excellent anti-racism work the players’ union in Ireland has achieved.