Antiracist World Cup: opening Press Conference06 July 2009

Bologna, July 6th – Five days of sports and games from the world, to say NO to all kinds of discrimination and to gather different stories and colours, sharing a common objective: the desire to create a better world. This is what the Anti racist World Cup is all about, described in the press conference held to present its thirteenth edition held on the 6th of July in Bologna at the Emilia Romagna Uips Committee premises. From the 8th to the 12th of July, Salvador Allende park in Casalecchio di Reno will host the World Cup, a large event organised by the Progetto Ultrà Uisp and by Istoreco of Reggio Emilia, as well as the 204 teams representing over 50 countries. Football matches will be played on 17 football grounds, followed by rugby, volleyball, cricket and basket matches. Alongside the sports, many cultural events will take place, i.e. films will be shown and debates on racial discriminations and such like will be held. Furthermore, every evening a concert will be played and a wide range of food stands will be set up to allow visitors to taste different types of food – from the Emilia Romagna region typical dishes to African cuisine.

At the end of the press conference, we collected the statements made by some of the people who will play a part in the imminent World Cup.

“During the last three years – said Simone Gamberini, Major of Casalecchio di
Reno – the town of Casalecchio has developed an increasingly closer relationship with the Antiracist World Cup, confirmed by two Casalecchio teams taking part in the tournament”

“The main piece of news of this year edition of the World Cup – said Carlo Balestri, Director of the Ultrà Project – is the involvement, from the very first events, of groups and associations, which will actively take part in the world cup. These contests have given rise to the idea of dedicating part of the World Cup to issues to be discussed in workshops and debates within the new Punto Arcobaleno, which will deal with these issues by exchanging different experiences in a joyful atmosphere. Other new elements will be the attendance of the boys working for Psicoradio, a radio station managed by psychically disabled people, and the testimonial of Hanum Al Sawaf, director of al Zuhur educational centre, which works in the Palestinian refugee camp of Shu'fat in Jerusalem East, together with the Uisp Peace Games NGO”.

“The Antiracist World Cup is not just about football – explained Matthias Durchfeld of Istoreco – but also features many other sports, organised with the co-operation of the groups and associations taking part and, as always, the social element will play a crucial role. The first event to be held during the World Cup will be the walk to the locations which have become a symbol of the Bologna Resistance. At the end of the walk, a delegation will lay a bunch of flowers inside the station, to commemorate the victims of the carnage which took place on August 2nd, 1980. Another bunch of flowers to be laid on the monument dedicated to Calsalecchio partisans killed during the Second World War.”

“Remembering is an essential issue of this year World Cup, just like in the events organised by the Uisp – said Vincenzo Manco, Chairman of Uisp Emilia Romagna and national Vice Chairman of Uisp – to celebrate our country’s memories through the tools we are more accustomed to and we have learnt to refine in many years of work: games and sport”

“The Antiracist World Cup has always relied on the co-operation of the FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network – said Michal Riecansky – a European network encompassing associations, NGOs and groups of supporters in the fight against discrimination in football and through football. Their work is becoming increasingly more important, in the light of the political drift towards the extreme right which is affecting some areas of Europe”.

“We first got involved with the World Cup as sponsors – said Andrea Fabbri Cassarini, Chamber of Commerce – CGIL Bologna – but I am happy to say that we are now actively involved in the World Cup itself!”

“This event is very topical – explained Leonardo Tancredi, of Piazza Grande – in the increasingly more intolerant climate currently experienced in our country. Within this framework, I take the opportunity to present the 2009 edition of the Homeless World Cup, the international tournament played by homeless teams, to be held in Milan in September, whose players will attend the World Cup on Saturday”.

“Amnesty International has attended the World Cup since 2003, by presenting its own campaigns – said Elisa Musi – and this year we will attend the event at different times with the “I want respect” campaign, which defends equal rights and treatment for all”.

Barbara Falaschi of YAP (Young Action for Peace) said: “We are very satisfied of our contribution to the Antiracist World Cup, where we will send 15 volunteers from all over the world for a working camp. These volunteers will help set up and manage the spaces”.