Costa Rican football celebrates the country’s cultural diversity01 September 2014

Round3and4matchesoftheCostaRicanfirstdivision(LigaFPD)celebrated,lastweekend(30-31August),thecountry’sculturaldiversityaheadofthe‘Día del Negro yla CulturaAfrocostarricense’(thenationalBlackHistoryDay)– 31Augustwithananti-discriminationcampaignunderthemotto‘NotoRacism’.

Five fixtures of the Liga FPD, including Santos v Puma, Cartaginés v Pérez Zeledón, Belén FC v Carmelita, UCR v Limón FC, and Uruguay v Saprissa, lend their support to the two-day action, stressing the top football’s commitment to address racism.

Team captains read messages recognising Costa Rica’s cultural heritage and home clubs displayed anti-racism messages in their stadiums.

The initiative was led by the Costa Rican Association of Premier League Football Clubs (UNAFUT), who in October 2013 urged the home football bodies to act tougher on racism and follow FIFA disciplinary code to sanction discriminatory abuse after a wave of incidents marred two fixtures.

In Costa Rica, where 8% of the total population is of Black African descent, racism in football has been a recurrent debate for the last couple of years, triggered by a number of incidents at the Liga FPD matches.

‘Isolated incidents that should not be devalued’ says Asojupro President
In April 2013, the Costa Rican league along with UNAFUT, the Player’s association (Asojupro) and the human rights governmental body Defensoría de los Habitantes, launched a campaign against racism and violence in stadiums that included dedicated matches to the campaign and awareness-raising activities in schools.

At the time, Reynaldo Parks, President of Asojupro, highlighted the importance of similar actions to address incidents of racist nature, “which are not common but that should not be devalued if Costa Ricans start to look at such actions as something normal.”

In June 2013, the country’s law on racism and violence in stadiums was rectified to include new directives, such as educational programmes and sanctions, to tackle discrimination and violence in football.