Balkans youngsters unite through football02 August 2006

International youth tournament in Smederevo, Serbia

The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network will come together with Serbian First Division Football Club FK Smederevo and the Balkan Alpe Adria Project (BAAP) to hold a football tournament against racism and nationalism this weekend in Serbia (4 – 6 August).

This will be the first time an event of this kind has been organised since the recent wars in the Balkans.

The tournament will see teams from Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Bulgaria and Serbia stand together in an act of solidarity against nationalism and racism.

The tournament has been supported by the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF) and European football’s governing body, UEFA.

Manager of Serbian FARE partner BAAP, Alexander Rakowitz, welcomed the partnership with UEFA, KBF, FARE and several football clubs in the Balkans:

At the World Cup in Germany we recognized the powerful message of football against discrimination. Now it is very important to use the power of football to overcome nationalism and racism also in crises-ridden areas like the Balkans.

In particular the younger generation have not been directly involved in the nationalistic manifestations during the war and are interested in overcoming the isolationist approach taken against other European countries and values. We think football can help to promote the idea of a multicultural and multiethnic society.

Savo Miloševic, Captain of Serbia and Montenegro at the World Cup and Osasuna Pamplona striker, added his support:

I give my vote and personal integrity in the fight against racism, xenophobia and other inhuman behaviours of the modern time. Making racist differences among people without knowing them, and only according to the colour of their skin, is not a characteristic of wise and honest people.

I think that we have to find a way to prevail in this case, to call upon morality and oral education of players and supporters as well. I truly believe that a day will come when we will not have to talk about this issue anymore.

The Under 16 youth tournament will take place between the 4 – 6 August near Belgrade at the stadium of FK Smederevo. The participating teams are Vardas Skopje from Macedonia, FC Sarajevo from Bosnia & Herzegovina, HNK Orient Rijeka from Croatia, ZSKA Sofia from Bulgaria and Partizan Belgrade, OFK Belgrade, the Vojvodina club FK Mladost Apatin and FK Smederevo from Serbia.

School classes from Smederevo have prepared specific chants and flags to support the guest teams. For the cultural programme around the tournament a Roma and a traditional Serbian music group have been invited.

Additionally the First Division match FK Smederevo vs Mladost Apatin on 5 August will highlight the fight against nationalism and racism.