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Blatter to enlist Boateng in FIFA's fight against racism

updated 6:22 PM EDT, Thu March 21, 2013
Kevin-Prince Boateng (L) and Patrick Vieira (R) with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
Kevin-Prince Boateng (L) and Patrick Vieira (R) with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FIFA to work with players like Kevin-Prince Boateng in fight against racism
  • Soccer's governing body joined with United Nations to discuss racism in sport
  • AC Milan's Boateng walked off in a match after suffering racial abuse from crowd
  • FIFA president Sepp Blatter says 2022 World Cup can only be moved on Qatar's request

(CNN) -- FIFA wants to enlist the help of Kevin-Prince Boateng and other high-profile stars from the world of soccer to help drive racism out of football.

AC Milan's Boateng left the field in a match against Italian fourth tier side Pro Patria in January after suffering racist abuse from the crowd, sparking further debate on whether enough was being done to tackle the problem.

Football's governing body joined forces with the United Nations Thursday to explore ways of combating discrimination and they said top players like Boateng can play a vital role.

Boateng, an ex-Ghana international, is due to meet Sepp Blatter on Friday and the FIFA president penned a speech that was presented to the U.N. on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

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It read: "When a player has to choose between leaving the field of play to make a statement against racism or staying on the pitch and tolerating the intolerable, we know the football community has fallen short of its obligations to protect its members.

"Despite the many victories we have won in football against discrimination and prejudice, we know we still have a problem today and we know more has to change.

"We have to step up our efforts, to keep fighting. We at FIFA supported Kevin Prince-Boateng for making that principled, brave stand. But we all know it was not a solution. It was a wake-up call. No player should have to make that choice.

"We, within the footballing community, now need a watertight commitment from grassroots to international level to better enforce FIFA's tough anti-discrimination regulations.

"And we hope to work with Kevin and other high-profile figures in the game to root out racism once and for all."

Boateng's actions drew a mixed response but it undoubtedly highlighted the issue and now he is hoping to assist FIFA in their anti-racism work.

He told the conference about his decision to leave the field: "Normally, this shouldn't be the thing to do. FIFA is pushing very hard. Generally speaking, yes, players shouldn't walk off.

"But I hope the authorities will now take concrete action in the fight against racism."

Former Arsenal and France captain Patrick Vieira was also at the U.N. conference in Geneva, Switzerland, and he told FIFA's official website the fight was moving in the right direction.

Racism continues to blight soccer with several incidents making headlines in the past calendar year, aside from Boateng's walk off.

Recently, Inter Milan was charged by European football's governing body UEFA for racist chanting towards Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who plays for English club Tottenham.

Last month, Inter was fined $65,500 by the Italian football authorities after its fans were found guilty of racially abusing former players Mario Balotelli and Sulley Muntari, who now play alongside Boateng at rivals AC Milan.

Fellow Italian club Lazio was hit with a $52,000 fine in February by UEFA for several offenses, including a fourth charge of racist behavior this season.

Serbia was ordered to play one under-21 match behind closed doors and was fined $105,000 by UEFA for racial abuse in a match with England.

Read: Inter Milan faces new racism charge

UEFA president Michel Platini has appealed the verdict of his organization in the hope of seeing stiffer punishments administered.

Chelsea and England captain John Terry was charged by UK police after allegedly making racist remarks to Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in October 2011. Terry was cleared of the charges in a London court in July 2012.

FIFA also moved to clarify comments made by Blatter in the Spanish media on the possibility of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar being moved from their summer to winter.

Blatter reportedly told newspaper AS that FIFA's executive committee must accept the criticism it is now receiving for their decision to choose Qatar as host, with concerns mounting over player safety due to excessive heat and humidity in the country.

FIFA said any question on moving the tournament would have to come from the Qatari organizers and as it stands the World Cup is still scheduled for June or July in 2022.

Blatter told AS: "Any request for change must come from Qatar. But they have not made this request yet, because they know that if they do so, the other bidders could say 'ah, there is a change.'"

On the question of whether the vote could be repeated he added: "I don't know, I don't know. This is a hypothetical scenario. In this moment, the organizers from Qatar have confirmed to us that they can organize the World Cup in summer."

Brazil and Italy drew 2-2 in an entertaining international friendly match in Switzerland.

Goals from Fluminese striker Fred and Chelsea midfielder Oscar had put Brazil into a 2-0 lead at halftime.

But Daniele De Rossi pulled a goal back for Italy soon after the break before AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli scored with a fine strike from range to seal a 2-2 draw.

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