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QUESTIONING: Prince Ali of Jordan says he is ‘perplexed’ at FIFA’s decision to disband their anti-racism programme

QUESTIONING: Prince Ali of Jordan says he is ‘perplexed’ at FIFA’s decision to disband their anti-racism programme

FIFA cancels anti-racism task force

Former FIFA presidential candidate, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, has labelled plans to wind up the football governing body’s anti-racism programme as ‘worrying’ and ‘shameful’.

The disbanding of the task force was confirmed at the Soccerex conference in Manchester this past week by FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samoura, who said that goals had been reached by the team.

“We will turn its work into a strong program of zero tolerance policy toward discrimination of any kind, including violation of human rights,” she said.

“We can live with perception (created by disbanding the task force) but we are taking very firm action.”

However, Prince Ali, who has twice run for the presidency at FIFA, said that ‘the notion that the current FIFA leadership believes that the task force’s recommendations have been implemented is shameful’, adding that the announcement was ‘incredibly worrying’.

“Never has the need to combat racism and racial discrimination been more evident than it is in the world we live in today,” Prince Ali said in a statement.

“It is not something that any governing body with any semblance of responsibility can down play or deny.

“The reality, as with many programs within FIFA, is that the task force was never given real support since its conception and its role was more about FIFA's image than actually tackling the issues.”

It was Nigerian broadcaster and lawyer, Osasu Obayiuwana, who first broke the news after publishing a letter he received from FIFA on Twitter announcing the end of the task force.

It said the task force had achieved the goals which were set out for it when it was created under the leadership of disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2013.

Among the critics of the programme’s cancellation is Britain’s Kick It Out anti-racism group, which stated it was ‘perplexed’ by FIFA’s decision.

Citing the upcoming Russian World Cup as an example, the charity said the country was ‘notorious for racism and abusive activities toward minorities’ and the idea to disband the team now was ‘deeply disheartening’.

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Al-Bacha crowned FIFA champ after thrilling final

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WHAT A GAME: Mohamad Al-Bacha is the new FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) Champion

WHAT A GAME: Mohamad Al-Bacha is the new FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) Champion

Best in the World

A Danish gamer has been crowned the official FIFA World champion, beating more than 2 million players to the coveted number one spot.

Mohamad Al-Bacha was crowned the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) Champion after beating Sean Allen of England in the Grand Final event at the world famous Apollo Theater in New York City earlier this month.

Al-Bacha was presented with his trophy by FIFA World Cup winner and New York City FC Captain, David Villa.

The Dane also received a cheque for $20,000 and an invitation to attend FIFA’s annual awards ceremony for the world’s best football players, the FIFA Ballon d’Or in Zurich.

“To win the competition is beyond words for me,” Al-Bacha said.

“For the last few months I have really worked on my performance and was totally committed to playing the best I could here in New York.

“Being presented with the winner’s trophy by David Villa is amazing and I can’t quite believe this is reality yet.”

In a thrilling two-legged final, with one leg played on PlayStation4 and one on Xbox One, Allen played with Brazil before Al-Bacha swooped to victory playing as France.

FINALIST: Al-Bacha received his trophy from New York City FC’s David Villa

FINALIST: Al-Bacha received his trophy from New York City FC’s David Villa

Trailing 3-1 in the second leg, following a 2-2 draw in the first, Al-Bacha scored two goals, including one in the 90th minute, to claim the title of world’s best FIFA 16 gamer.

The 2016 edition marked the first time that the annual tournament was played on both the world’s leading gaming consoles - The PlayStation4 and Xbox One.

The new champion is the first FIFA Interactive World Cup Champion to ever win the event while playing on multiple platforms.

Speaking about Mohamad Al-Bacha's win, David Villa said: “It’s been a real eye opener for me to see the level of competition here.

“The professionalism and mental strength in the final was just like in a real World Cup Final.

“I played a few of the competitors myself but I’m nowhere near their level. Congratulations to Mohamad Al-Bacha. He played a great match this evening and showed a real passion for football.”

The 2016 Grand Final, the twelfth edition of the tournament, was the first time that New York City had the pleasure of hosting the showpiece event.

Over 2.3 million players from around the world took part in online qualification for the 2016 edition of the largest video gaming tournament in the world, but only an elite 32 players made it to New York.

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FIFA to stay in Europe

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FOOTBALL: Sheikh Salman is the bookies’ favourite to succeed Sepp Blatter as head of FIFA later this month

FOOTBALL: Sheikh Salman is the bookies’ favourite to succeed Sepp Blatter as head of FIFA later this month

Governing body would not relocate should Bahraini candidate land top job

As the race for the FIFA presidential hot seat gathers pace, candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, has said he plans to retain the name FIFA and keep its base in Europe, should he be elected.

Votes will be cast later this month to see who replaces the ousted Sepp Blatter, with Salman considered the odds-on favourite to land the prestigious position.

“FIFA has always been in Zurich,” he said to the Zurich daily Tages-Anzeiger when asked how often he, as a Bahraini citizen, would be in the city if he succeeded Swiss-born Blatter. “I see no reason to change that ... I will be in Zurich as often as needed.”

A number of investigations are currently being carried out into FIFA officials, leading to a scandal-ridden nature at the top of world football.

Salman said this is something that needs addressing immediately and denied allegations that he had previously used funds from Bahrain’s football association to win a FIFA executive committee seat.

“It's the work that must change, not the name,” he said. “We need zero tolerance against misconduct, fraud and corruption.”

Salman has previously stated that he is paying out of his own pocket to fund his campaign, having previously made similar moves for his position on the FIFA executive committee in 2009 and presidency of the Asian soccer body in 2013.

Asked if Blatter could attend a FIFA congress to elect his successor, he said: “I respect the FIFA rules. If they say banned officials cannot take part, then that's the way it is. The rules are for everyone.”

Votes will be cast and counted on 26th February.

The other election candidates are UEFA interim chief Gianni Infantino, ex-FIFA executive committee member Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne and South African Tokyo Sexwale.

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Concerns over FIFA candidate

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COMPLICATED: The search for Sepp Blatter’s replacement as head of FIFA remains a controversial subject

COMPLICATED: The search for Sepp Blatter’s replacement as head of FIFA remains a controversial subject

Campaigners call for investigation over potential Blatter succesor

A rights group in Bahrain have written to a host of FIFA’s leading sponsors, asking them to consider their positions should Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa’s bid for presidency within world football’s governing body be successful.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has accused Sheikh Salman of attempting to supress the popular uprising in his home country in 2011, alleging that he was involved in the detention and torture of footballers.

According to a letter sent to Coca-cola, McDonalds, Visa, Adidas, Budweiser, Gazprom, Hyundai and KIA, the FIFA president candidate was previously appointed head of a committee which sought to punish players and team which supported the uprising.

He also reportedly headed a Bahrain FA meeting which ‘politically punished’ six clubs, with relegations and fines, after they requested suspension of football activities during the uprising over safety concerns.

According to an official press release at the time, Sheikh Salman’s Bahrain FA: “Highlighted the importance of abiding by the decisions of the Investigative Committee, which concern whomever has recently offended our leaders and precious kingdom, and the importance of excluding whomever is proven to have participated in these offensive acts, including administrators, referees and committee members of the Bahrain FA.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, BIRD, said the Sheikh had to be made accountable for his actions.

He said: “We hope FIFA’s sponsors consider our letter very seriously and respond immediately and appropriately.

“Sheikh Salman led the politicised punishment of clubs and denies the torture Bahraini players underwent. Coca-cola have called for an accountable FIFA. What happened in Bahrain was a black mark on its history, and Sheikh Salman must be held accountable for the part he played.”

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Sheikh pitches for FIFA action

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IN IT TO WIN IT: Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has plans in the pipeline for the world football’s governing body

IN IT TO WIN IT: Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has plans in the pipeline for the world football’s governing body

Asian football boss has his eye on the beautiful game

As FIFA’s presidential election race heats up, Asian football boss, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, is aiming to be the perfect match for the sport’s governing body with officials feeling the pressure from the organisation’s crisis.

Football's world governing body is currently facing criminal investigations in Switzerland and the United States, where 41 officials and sports entities have been slammed with corruption charges.

Switzerland's prosecutor is also investigating FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Interestingly, all candidates for the presidential hot seat are presenting themselves as ‘reformers’.

The president of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman, has his own plans in the pipeline for changes at the sport’s top organisation. His plans include splitting FIFA into separate ‘business’ and ‘football’ entities.

He said reform is an ‘ongoing process’.

Sheikh Salman says he also wants to be a very different style of president to the man he supported for many years - Sepp Blatter - who has now been banned from FIFA.

He adds that he sees the role as non-executive and wants to delegate rather than what he terms ‘micromanage’.

It comes after FIFA ethics investigators said they were planning an appeal that could extend eight-year bans on outgoing president Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, raising the possibility of lifelong exclusion.

On Wednesday, FIFA fired secretary general, Jerome Valcke, amid alleged corruption involving World Cup ticket sales.

Salman, who this past week has been drumming up support in the Caribbean and Central America, is quietly confident that he has collected enough support to win.

He told Reuters reporters: “I feel that my chances are good. I have been through elections before and believe me I won’t put my name into the hat unless I know that I have a good chance of winning.”

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