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Taking players’ lead, UEFA seeks better anti-racism campaign

June 17, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 file photo, Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates during an English Premier League soccer match against Manchester City at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced growing pressure Tuesday, June 16, 2020 to make a policy U-turn as opponents and allies alike rallied behind a young soccer star’s campaign to help families struggling with food poverty. Manchester United and England player Marcus Rashford is urging the government to provide free meals for needy students over the summer holidays.(AP Photo/Rui Vieira, file)
FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 file photo, Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates during an English Premier League soccer match against Manchester City at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced growing pressure Tuesday, June 16, 2020 to make a policy U-turn as opponents and allies alike rallied behind a young soccer star’s campaign to help families struggling with food poverty. Manchester United and England player Marcus Rashford is urging the government to provide free meals for needy students over the summer holidays.(AP Photo/Rui Vieira, file)

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — European soccer body UEFA wants to improve its campaigns promoting anti-racism and diversity after seeing several players make a big impact off the field.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin praised England forwards Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, and Germany defender Jerome Boateng on Wednesday for “leading some of our most important international debates.”

Sterling and Boateng have spoken out about racism in soccer and society, while Rashford’s personal campaign for poorer children to continue getting free meals during the school summer break led the British government to change its policy on Tuesday.

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Ceferin said the power of soccer was huge and “we should use that for good messaging.”

“Probably the campaigns we had were not enough. I think we should come to the next level,” the Slovenian lawyer said.

There are currently no black officials among the 27 people elected by European soccer to the ruling committees of UEFA and FIFA. The only non-white elected person is Nasser al-Khelaifi, the Qatari president of Paris Saint-Germain who represents clubs in UEFA’s decision-making body.

After Ceferin was elected in 2016 to lead UEFA, France star Paul Pogba was the public face of its “ Equal Game ” campaign to promote inclusion across race, gender, sexuality and disability.

Ceferin said at a news conference it was too early to share the ideas UEFA was now working on.

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