MANCHESTER: India’s Slum Soccer organisation has become the first winner of the inaugural FIFA Diversity Award.
Slum Soccer works to use football – “the beautiful game which is unique yet a perfect vehicle that transcends race, religion, language and gender” – to bring about a change in the lives of street dwellers [http://slumsoccer.org/].
Fatma Samoura, the world football federation’s secretary-general, presented the award at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester.
The other two finalists were the International Gay & Lesbian Football Association ([IGLFA] which promotes and fosters the worldwide growth of football for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals [LGBT] while also strengthening the self-respect of the global LGBT community) and Kick It Out, of England (which enables, facilitates and works with football authorities, professional clubs, players, fans and communities to tackle all forms of discrimination).
Ironically it was dreamed up by the FIFA anti-discrimination task force which was wound up at the end of last week.
FIFA endorsed the award as highlighting “the importance of the fight against exclusion and discrimination” and recognising “an outstanding organisation, group initiative or football personality standing up for diversity and anti-discrimination in football.”
The 11-strong jury comprised Clarence Seedorf (former Dutch international); Abby Wambach (American Women’s World Cup winner ); Thomas Hitzlsperger (former Germany captain ); Moya Dodd and Constant Omari (FIFA Council members ); Tokyo Sexwale (South African anti-apartheid activist ); Joyce Cook (managing director of the Centre for Access to Football in Europe [CAFE] ); Piara Powar (executive director of Fare [Football Against Racism in Europe]); Jaiyah Saelua (rep. the Fa’afafine or ‘third gender’ people specific to Samoan culture); Gerald Asamoah (first African-born black player to represent Germany,); and Alexandra Haas Paciuc (the president of the Mexican National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination [CONAPRED]).