FIFA Antidiscrimination Task Force Chairman Jeffrey Webb
FIFA Officials Can't Even Agree On What Constitutes Homophobia at World Cup

By Thom Senzee

Originally published on Advocate.com July 03 2014 8:00 PM ET

While FIFA contends it's committed to ending homophobic and racist slurs at soccer matches worldwide, recent comments by an executive with the agency indicates that the group can't even agree on what constitutes a slur, let alone settle on an appropriate punishment for such instances. 

"It is obvious there is a disconnect between what we in the task force deem as racism and discrimination and what the disciplinary committee deems as racism and discrimination," Jeffrey Webb, chairman of FIFA's Antidiscrimination Task Force told reporters earlier this week, according to Fox Sports

Webb was responding to FIFA's decision to drop an investigation into alleged antigay, racist slurs chanted by fans during last month's World Cup game between Mexico and Brazil.

"There is absolutely no reason why, at this World Cup we don't have antidiscrimination officers here doing proper investigations, proper reporting," Webb said.

But FIFA Disciplinary Committee Chairman Claudio Sulser was unmoved by Webb's critique. Sulser defended his decision not to further investigate nor sanction Mexico for chanting the homophobic Spanish and Portuguese slur "puto," which can be translated to mean "faggot" or male prostitute.

Instead, Sulser was only willing to admit that the slur was "inappropriate" and "even kind of rude."

"There have been isolated cases," Sulser said through a translator, before adding that he didn't want to "intervene only for the sake of intervening," according to Fox Sports.

Regardless of how this year's World Cup plays out, Webb is already looking to the 2018 World Cup in Russia as the best hope for a better time and place for football players and fans of all stripes — including LGBT people.

But that doesn't mean that Webb is naieve about the increasingly dangerous, violent antigay climate fostered in Russia following last summer's enactment of a nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda. 

"It is much more of a problem in Russia," Webb said, according to DNA India. "Russia itself needs a special task force, just for Russia and from an educational standpoint internally."

Contributor: 
Thom Senzee