Fight against racism starts in earnest

2014-11-30 15:00

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With the first Global Watch: Say No to Racism-Discrimination in Sport done and dusted, a serious, mass educational programme of action is set to start in the new year.

The highly successful event, held at Emperor’s Palace, east of Joburg, where President Jacob Zuma delivered a keynote address, was attended by 430 delegates, among them 64 country ambassadors.

The gathering culminated in the signing of a Global Watch Declaration Charter , where delegates committed themselves to fighting the scourge of racism.

“We will embark on a massive, global educational campaigns through the media in the new year,” said SA businessman Tokyo Sexwale, the founder of Global Watch.

“This will start at schools and all educational institutions, and run right through the year.”

Sexwale said the reason behind the decision to take this route was that it emerged at the Summit that racism was not just a sport “thing” but a societal behaviour.

Former Liverpool star John Barnes told the summit that if sporting organisations tackle racism only during sporting events, it would simply mean it is condoned outside sporting arenas.

“What we have to challenge is

the environment and not the individuals,” said Barnes, himself a victim of acts of racism during his playing career. “A zero tolerance policy won’t do much to actually eradicate the problem. Education is the best and only way to get rid of racism.”

Before the mass campaign is launched, Global Watch – a joint venture between the Sexwale, Doha and Nelson Mandela foundations – will hold its first council meeting in Qatar, where a Top 100 list of the who’s who in the world of sport, arts, politics will be unveiled.

This group of ambassadors will be known as the Global Watch Eminent Persons Group and will include former heads of states and top Hollywood actors, among others.

British High Commissioner Judith McGregor wrote to Sexwale this week, saying: “The participation at the summit of presidents Zuma, [Thabo] Mbeki, [Kgalema] Motlanthe, together with senior representatives of the International Olympic Committee and Fifa, was a clear demonstration of the strong support this important cause has from the highest level in South Africa and across the world.”

She closed by stating: “I look forward to working with you and the Nelson Mandela Foundation to help rid sport and indeed society of racism and discrimination.”

Sexwale said Global Watch was not a local organisation. “The only reason the summit was held here was for convenience. It was also significant that we held the Summit at the same venue where Codesa [the Convention for a Democratic South Africa] was held,” he said

“South Africa is the home of the the anti-apartheid struggle. However, we do not have big racism problems similar to those across the globe, more especially in Europe and as we currently see in the US,” referring to the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.

Some of the events lined up for next year include:

»Giving the inaugural Nelson Mandela Anti-Racism award to Fifa president Sepp Blatter;

»The announcement of an annual racism barometer in London or “somewhere in Europe”;

»Assistance of victims in laying criminal charges against perpetrators;

»Persuading all sporting confederations, federations, clubs and countries to adopt the antiracism charter; and

»Reconciliation meetings between affected parties.

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