CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in AMMAN: FIFA vice-president Prince Ali of Jordan is “optimistic” that contentious issues – such as racism – plaguing the image of Russia as a world sports host can be overcome.

Prince Ali was speaking after the Yaya Toure incident in Moscow and on the eve of the 100-day countdown to the Sochi Winter Olympics which are clouded by concern of local ‘anti-gay’ legislation.

UEFA’s disciplinary committee will rule tomorrow on the Champions League tie between CSKA and Manchester City during which the English club’ captain complained to the referee about acist abuse aimed at himself and other black players.

Russia hosts the World Cup in 2018 after a bidding campaign in which officials continually sought to shrug off concerns about racist attitudes. Russia’s top football official is Vitaly Mutko who, in his role as Sports Minister, is also playing down gay rights concerns over Sochi.


Coincidentally, Mutko is a member of the FIFA executive committee on which Prince Ali sits as vice-president representing Asia.

Prince Ali said: “It’s not FIFA’s job to get involved in the internal politics of a country. But when it comes to a celebration which is under the auspices of FIFA then it has a responsibility to guarantee that it is done in a proper way, regardless of what the issues are.

“Obviously there are issues in Brazil, there are issues in Russia, and in Sochi it’s not just the gay issue there’s an issue over the Circassian community and obviously the issue of racism which is big.

“There are a myriad of other issues that need to be tackled and sorted but I’m optimistic that they can be if there is the right approach but again this is a celebration for the world and so it needs to have this concept that all the world accepts.”

Prince Ali noted the significance of the role of the media in providing “a little prodding.” He considered it “a bit strange” that the media had focused so heavily on the 2022 World Cup when there were more immediate issues in terms of timing.

This did not absolve football in general or FIFA in particular of responsibility.

Prince Ali said: “The issues of racism or any discrimination – be it from players against players, be it from fans against fans or from workers or against workers – need to be tackled. At least we have to try our very best to diminish it as best we can.”