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Arsenal Great Thierry Henry Calls for Urgent Change to Stop Racism; Japan to Launch New Women's Empowerment Top-Flight League and More (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry calls for urgent change to fight racism across the world after George Floyd’s death | Japan to launch new 'Women's Empowerment' top-flight league in 2021 | Spanish football to resume a day early with second half of abandoned match | Phil Foden: Manchester City warn midfielder over beach football pictures | AFC urged to mandate human rights into 2027 Asian Cup bids.
Sportspersons across the world unite against systemic racism

Sportspersons across the world have been protesting and expressing solidarity in the fight against systemic racism following the murder of George Floyd by the police in the US.

Former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry s asked for quick actions to be taken to stop racism. He was speaking after coming out in support of the protest over the death of George Floyd. 

“We do urgently need change, we demand change and most importantly, we deserve change. Make it happen, now. Enough is enough,” Henry, who is also the manager of Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact, wrote on Twitter.

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“Why is this still happening in 2020? Why do the same racists applaud any ethnic minority who plays for the team they support but abuse the same minorities on the street?”

Henry and many other sportspersons, including Bundesliga players, basketball great Michael Jordan and Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, have raised their voice against racism and police violence.

“Why are all the methods we are using to eradicate this from our society not working? It’s gone on for too long and we have come too far for this to be tolerated in modern society,” the Frenchman added.

Japan’s Women's Empowerment League

The Japan Football Association (JFA) disclosed plans to start a new women’s club competition as the Women’s Empowerment (WE) League. 

The JFA are targeting six to 10 teams for the inaugural season that will run parallel to the European football calendar (around September 2021 to May 2022).

The WE League will replace Japan's top-flight above the already established Nadeshiko League. However, there will be no promotion and relegation between the divisions for a few years. "The purpose of the launch of the new league is not just the development of women's football in Japan," JFA President Kozo Tashima said in a statement.

"Our aim is to contribute to build a sustainable society through promoting female social participation and enhancing diversities and choices." "How we contribute to society through sports is an important mission for all of us in the sports world," he added.

The JFA, in order to boost women empowerment, also specified that there should be atleast one women executive per club. They further added that at least half the employees should comprise females within three years.

Japan is bidding to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup against Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Columbia. FIFA is set to announce the tournament on June 25. 

Spanish Football to Resume a Day Early

Spanish Football is set to restart a day earlier than planned to complete an half abandoned second division match. The Match between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete Balompié, which

was postponed last December over offensive chanting, will now kick off on June 10. 

The match was abandoned at halftime after fans of  Rayo Vallecano. in a series of offensive chanting, accused Albacete’s Ukrainian forward Roman Zozulya for being a Nazi and belonging to far-right groups in his home country. 

Although there have been instances of racist chanting during matches, it was the first time in the history of Spanish football that a match was abandoned for offensive chanting. 

The Spanish Football Federation in a statement said that both sides of the teams have agreed to play the unfinished match from the second half without any spectators. 

Manchester City Warns Phil Foden

Manchester City warned footballer Phil Foden for flouting lockdown protocols by playing football on the beach. The 20-old year midfielder was seen enjoying a kickabout on the beach and also had his photo taken with several people on Sunday. 

According to the government guidelines, people can participate in sporting activities as long as they maintain a two-meter distance for the competitors. While the Premier League players have resumed their contact training, they have also been strictly told to maintain social distancing. 

However, Foden is not the only one to breach the rules. Manchester City defender Kyle Walker was pictured visiting his family in Sheffield during lockdown last month but the club did not punish him due his personal circumstances. 

The club did take disciplinary action against Walker in Early April after he reportedly hosted a party with two sex workers at his flat. City said the right-back's actions had "directly contravened" his responsibility as a role model.

Human Rights and Asian Cup Bids

A global activist body, Sports & Rights Alliance, has asked the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to take into consideration human rights track record during the bidding process and organising of the 2027 AFC Asian Cup. The deadline for entering the bid is June 30 and the expected bidders include India, Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. 

The Sports & Rights Alliance urged AFC to apply the same human right standards that FIFA has set for the 2026 World Cup that will be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“All these standards … should not be based on goodwill but must be non-negotiable and binding for all stakeholders,” said the SRA group of trade unions and rights advocates  in a letter to the AFC’s president, Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain.

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