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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2006, 15:45 GMT
Hayatou demands action on racism
Caf president Issa Hayatou
Caf president Issa Hayatou wants Europe to crack down on racism
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) president, Issa Hayatou, has called for Europe to do more to stamp out racism in football.

Talking at the Caf congress in Cairo, he also asked European clubs to free up Africa's footballers to play for their countries.

"The fight against racial discrimination is never over," he said.

"The news we have been getting regularly, notably from Europe, obliges us to be extremely vigilant."

In a direct call to Fifa president Sepp Blatter and Uefa chief Lennart Johansson, Hayatou said: "Help us. Make sure that those responsible for racist acts are unmasked and condemned, and prevented from highlighting differences.

"It is down to you to act firmly to safeguard our most precious possession - football."

Speaking two days before the African Cup of Nations kicks off in Egypt, Hayatou took a swipe at European clubs, who he said were selfishly treating football as an accounting exercise in their dealings with African national teams.

"I would like to address the clubs who, using pressure, find a way of holding on to our players who have been called up by their national sides," Hayatou said.

"It is a worry for all of us.

Football provides a means of identity, something which brings our peoples together
Issa Hayatou

"We have abided by the international calendar established by Fifa and football in our countries has a significant social role.

"It is the best basis for national unity, which can at times be a fragile thing.

"Football provides a means of identity, something which brings our peoples together."

The club-versus-country row has become acute in recent years because of the array of African talent now playing overseas.

One third of the players at the 2006 Nations Cup are drawn from clubs spanning some 19 European countries.

Fifa and Uefa have anti-racism campaigns designed to tackle incidents that have marked several European leagues in recent seasons, most notably in Italy and Spain.


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