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CONCACAF head calls for change

ZURICH – CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb believes that the time has come to re-distribute places on the executive committee of world soccer’s governing body in which one third of the seats belong to Europe.

“The landscape has changed since 1904 when FIFA was founded in France,” Webb, who also heads FIFA’s anti-racism task force, said in an interview.

“I think if we don’t do this now, we will miss a great opportunity. I challenge anyone to sit there and justify to me that Africa, with 54 members, should have only four representatives.

“Europe has eight members on the 25-member executive committee, plus president Sepp Blatter from Switzerland. Africa has four places, Asia four, CONCACAF three, South America three, Oceania one and one is reserved for a female representative.Webb said he would like proportional representation on the executive committee to be included in the proposals for reforming FIFA which will be discussed at the annual Congress in Many.

“We embrace what the independent governance committee has suggested but we also think there should be a discussion about proportional representation,” said Webb.

“The game has changed not only from a sporting standpoint but from a federations’ standpoint. There are now 209 federations around the world, also from an economic standpoint as well things have changed.”

Webb, from the Cayman Islands, was elected CONCACAF president last year to head the confederation which controls the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

He admitted that football had not done enough to stamp out racism in the sport.

“I think overall, the entire football fraternity has to do more, this has been going long for too long,” he said.

“I can remember attending the FIFA Congress in Argentina in 2001 and former France defender Lilian Thuram was there speaking about racism.

“Here we are, 12 years later, and we’re still having this discussion and we have not implemented proper legislation to make sure we issue sanctions.

‘Send a message’

“At the end of the day, we have to send a message to the world and to every confederation, and every national associations and every club, that it’s not going to be tolerated, that there’s no place for this in our game.

“We need to sit down and define what the parameters are, present them to the 209 FIFA member countries and let everyone know ahead of time what possible sanctions you have.

“Then, if you choose to break those rules and disregard the legislation…, we have to apply whatever measures have been passed by Congress.

“If that means removing someone from competition, if that means relegation, then so be it.”

AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng led his team off the field in protest at racist chanting during a friendly match in January.

That gesture was described as courageous by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, although he added it should not be seen as the solution to the problem.

“Sometimes, unless you’ve been there, you don’t know what your reaction would be,” said Webb. “I don’t know what mine would be, but definitely sports is one of the greatest uniting factors in the world, a huge celebration of emotions and passions and racism creates such a huge division.

“I can’t tell you what Kevin-Prince Boateng experienced or what Jozy Altidore experienced or what (Emmanuel) Adebayor experienced in Inter Milan a few days ago,” he said, referring to other recent cases.

“But I do know that, as human beings they have a right, and they’re professionals, they have sacrificed hours and hours to get where they are.” (Reuters)††

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