The activities of the Unite Against Racism campaign in Austria and Switzerland take centre stage this week as the team captains of the UEFA Euro 2008 semi-finalists will deliver a message against racism and for diversity directly from the pitch.
Michael Ballack of Germany and Recber Rüstü of Turkey as well as Iker Casillas of Spain and Sergei Semak of Russia will speak to fans through the stadium loudspeaker systems in Basel and Vienna during their teams line-up after the national anthems. The teams will also be flanked by two huge Unite Against Racism flags.
Before kick-off all, fans are invited to join an anti-racism choreography. All of the 40,000 spectators in Basel and the 50,000 spectators in Vienna will find a bib with the message ‘No to Racism’ on their seat. Fans will be encouraged to lift their yellow, green, blue and red bibs in unison.
UEFA President Michel Platini welcomed the activities, “The Unite Against Racism campaign serves to demonstrate our respect for diversity. We're determined to ensure that major footballing events like the Euro are played in an environment of harmony and respect.”
The initiative is part of a series of messages that will involve pitch side boards that have made such an impact throughout the tournament, the wearing of captains armbands and the screening of the anti-racism video spot at each match that have become an intrinsic part of this years campaign.
Piara Powar, from UK FARE member Kick It Out, said,
“The ‘Unite Against Racism’ campaign has captured fans imagination’s through a highly visible presence inside and outside stadiums.
“The semi-final captains will reinforce just how important it is to tackle discrimination in all its forms. This years activities have marked a watershed in the way this social message has been communicated.”