The anti-racist East Europe Monitoring Centre starts its operation in Warsaw this month. The newly launched centre will monitor, research and document cases of racism and xenophobia across the region, with a special emphasis on Poland and Ukraine.
'The growing social significance of football in Poland and Ukraine before 2012 provides an excellent opportunity to highlight the pressing issues of xenophobia and racism in Eastern Europe'– said sociologist Dr Rafal Pankowski, the Monitoring Centre coordinator.
'Our starting point is racism in football, but we see it in a more general context of discrimination in broader society'– explains the assistant coordinator Jacek Purski.
Many Eastern European states have witnessed a rise in racism, anti-semitism and far-right political activities over the past two decades. Over the same period football, which mirrors so many social developments, has also seen overt examples of these problems across the region.
The Centre is a part of the three-year FARE Eastern European Development Project, funded by UEFA in the run up to the 2012 European Football Championship in Poland and Ukraine. The project's core objectives are:
– To support the preparation of Euro 2012 and anti-discriminatory activities through training programmes, lobbying activities and partnerships with governing bodies, Local Organising Committees, and host cities,
– To work alongside and capacity-build ethnic minority communities to challenge discrimination,
– Increase the profile of FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) and the Unite Against Racism programme and its ethos in Eastern Europe,
– To build a resource and campaigning hub to support a long-term anti-discrimination action in football in Eastern Europe.
The project will also have a wider country base with a strong focus on Hungary and Slovakia. Several other states, namely Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus and Moldova, are going to be monitored and awareness-raising activities are to be explored there, too.
The overall project management is lead by the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association in Warsaw. The other partners in the project coordination team are: People Against Racism in Slovakia, the Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organisation in Hungary, and Fairplay in Austria. The project team intends to cooperate with numerous other NGOs and ethnic minority groups across Eastern Europe.