FIFA anti-racism adviser Tokyo Sexwale is concerned about racism in Russia ahead of the country’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup, saying at a FIFA event on Tuesday that black players could boycott the tournament unless Russian President Vladimir Putin demands tougher action against racism in soccer.
"There is a threat black players will say they are not going to Russia (for the World Cup) — we can't have that," Sexwale, an anti-apartheid campaigner and former political prisoner on Robben Island in near Cape Town, South Africa, told the AP Tuesday. "I am talking as a FIFA person and a citizen of the world — it can't go that far. ... Once these things start and you don't act as leaders, these things snowball."
Sexwale then called on his “personal friend,” Putin, to show that he is tough on racism. "Show that leadership, be the Putin the world knows, be tough," he said. "Failure to do so, we could be talking something different about the 2018 World Cup ... you will have people saying they will not go to Russia." He added: "For the Russian federation to be seen to be serious we need them to take stern action. The world took stern action against South Africa (over apartheid), it was expelled from FIFA."