The President of the International Sports Press Association in Africa, Mr Mitchell Obi has said that the agitations against racial discrimination is massive but comes in stupefying occurrences.
Speaking at a virtual conference on Monday, tagged “Racism and Discrimination in Sport” Mitchell Obi said that it is “no longer time” for black people to remain complacent when it comes to issues of racism in sports, describing the act as “an intolerable act soaked in the culture of a false supremacy.”
“This no longer time for us to pretend and that we cannot continue to live a lie…”AIPS Africa President Obi Mitchell
He attested to the agitation and activism of the ‘rising’ Japanese tennis player, Naomi Osaka who, through her face mask brought a great reminder of the victims of police brutality in the U.S.
“The mask is off and her conscience bleeds like an open wounds” he described
Pouring encomiums to the organizers of the two day-online conference, which had many dignitaries in attendance, including the first vice president of UEFA Karl-Earl Nilsson, Obi said that the protests against racial discrimination have been ‘loud’ but it is ‘pitiably episodic’.
“… but today all around us in the streets, in the stadia, the courts and all the corridors leading to the locker rooms and right there in our hearts and conscience, Racism indeed a dirty words, that tells like a broken mirror in the sun”.
He urged the pressmen and the stakeholders in sports to say the truth which will ‘heal the open wounds of our conscience’.
In attempt not to be descriptive about the ‘despicable shades of racism’, He gave some vivid instances on how sportsmen were being discriminated, including the incessant sexual abuse of women all in the name of doing sports.
“The examples are not limited to monkey cries or the allusion, the banana images in the stadium, the headlines from the newsroom that capture the ugliness of black in fine prints, constant sexualization of talent women in sports…” Obi narrated.
He said FIFA under the leadership of Gianni Infantino wanted to crap a taskforce on racism but some quarters insisted that, in order to have a decisive authority on racism that ‘sickened the game’, the world football body needed to go ‘beyond rhetoric and symbolism.’
He further accentuated that the task force put in place against racism and discrimination by FIFA had a short stay which was vehemently criticized by the likes of Yaya Toure among other. Mr Obi said that within the time frame, the task force came out with some ‘commendable two prompt directions’ in the fight against racism. Nevertheless, the Nigerian challenged the world football body to create more platforms in issuing a binding authority saddles with strict rules for racist at all levels.
“FIFA as a leading global sport organization has a clout to do more terms of initiative and adopting a blueprint that carries stiff sanction for racist act at all level as well as enlightenment programme” Mr Obi said
He also added that ‘time is running fast for FIFA to boldly show its face’ in the fight against racism and discrimination. He also challenged the authorities of the world football body to be cautious in conducts of matters pertaining to racism.
“…I sincerely think that Infantino like other leaders of sports has the responsibility of consistently sending an unequivocal message that they won’t stand for racism and discrimination. It must be embedded in a comprehensive protocol” He suggested.
He affirmed that “women in sports should be appreciated and judged by their talents and performance and definitely not their sexuality” Obi attested that women are raising the oars in liberation of themselves in having a unified voice, which should be done at ‘the global sphere of game.’
He ended his speech, taking succor from the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Leopold Senghor, stating that it is very daunting to fill the void in the eradication of racism in sports from government and corporate bodies.
“It is difficult time for our country, but I know if we have the courage to do something about it, to do the right thing will come stronger at the end” He concluded.