UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson said the UEFA EURO 2008™ final round in Austria and Switzerland will provide a crucial platform in the fight against racism in football.
Mr Olsson was speaking as Austrian fair-play organisations staged a discussion in the Austrian parliament about fan support and anti-racist activities for the tournament. The event was also attended by senior political and football officials. “EURO 2008 provides a big possibility for further worldwide work against racism,” Mr Olsson said. “UEFA is backing the activities to support fans and prevent violence and discrimination. EURO 2008 can help to raise awareness of the fight against racism, and I am sure that it will.”
Cooperation with politics
Barbara Prammer, Austrian second president of the Austrian Parliament, who was hosting the event in the parliament, said: “To be successful, the campaign also needs political support, and we in Austria are giving this support. A EURO 2008 without discrimination and providing hospitality for all the fans would be the best advertisement for football, and for Austria and Switzerland. We are happy at the support coming from the Austrian federal government, UEFA, the EURO 2008 organisers and the Austrian Football Association.”
Ban the troublemakers
Austrian FA president Friedrich Stickler said: “We want to prevent any racism and discrimination during EURO 2008, because we do not want any negative media coverage during our big event. I am very happy that we have the Austrian fair-play campaign, and we support it with all our power. The best thing would be to ban all the troublemakers out of our stadiums. This obviously requires intensive cooperation work with the police, but this must be our aim for the future. England has a good system, and we must try to do similar things in Austria.”
Austrian sports secretary Karl Schweitzer was categorical: “We do not want hooligans in the stadiums and, of course, at events like EURO 2008. We have to keep football free of racism and violence, and therefore we need such campaigns. We have to even go one step further – not only to ban the hooligans from the EURO, but to confiscate their passports and ID cards, to make sure that they cannot travel during big events.”