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United Nations: Football and Human Rights

Mar 22, 2013, 11:48 AM EDT

AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng reacts at the end of the team's Champions League soccer match against Barcelona in Milan

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay said in a meeting attended by AC Milan’s, Kevin-Prince Boateng that “It is time for football to catch up with 21st century values of respecting diversity.”

The world’s most popular sport is coming under increasing scrutiny and rightly so as it has the power and influence to effect change. Young and old, look to players and coaches for guidance and the number of high-profile incidents and inflammatory statements continues to grow as the media and public witness and record everything.

Pillay who has a long history working within human rights believes football must move with the times on issues such as accepting gay players, combating racism and promoting the role of women.

With Robbie Rodgers recently coming out and announcing he’s gay while at the same time retiring from Major League Soccer, Boateng suggesting that racist players should be fired for racist behavior and the women’s pro league (NWSL) in America making another attempt to crack the market, the time is now for all these issues to be addressed head-on.

As an organization FIFA has been especially slow to take a lead and as the governing arm of the sport that is a major disappointment however they are close to appointing first female member to its powerful executive committee later this year.

Pillay added the following in her interview with BBC Sport.

“I’m concerned that these huge clubs are administered by men,” she added. There aren’t women in decision-making positions in these clubs.”
“There is a wide gap and what women are saying to me is that since they are excluded from these positions their voices are not heard.
“So their right to freedom of expression is also affected.”

The time is now and you’re either on the train or standing on the platform stuck in the past.

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