European Football to stand united as 10th Action Week kicks-off14 October 2009

Europe’s biggest anti-racism campaign kicks-off tomorrow (October 15th). The next two weeks will witness Europe’s football community stand united against discrimination and celebrate the diversity of cultures in football.

The 10th FARE Action Week (15 – 27 October), organised by the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network and supported by UEFA, features 1000 initiatives by campaigners, fans, clubs, national associations, ethnic minority groups and youth groups across Europe. Launched in the 2001/2002 season with initiatives in 9 countries, the 10th anniversary edition of the annual FARE Action Week will now involve 40 different countries.

Focus on Discrimination
Homophobia and sexism remain ingredients of the “beautiful game”, but solutions on how to tackle these problems are often neglected. Therefore, the FARE network has called for action against homophobia in stadiums. Tonight’s FIFA World Cup qualifier between Germany and Finland in Hamburg will be played under the motto ”Against Homophobia in football”. To mark the FARE Action Week, the German Football Association (DFB) together with the FARE partners EGLSF and BAFF will distribute 80.000 flyers in German stadia to promote tolerance towards gays and lesbians.

Schalke 04 and Düsseldorf fans have staged film-screenings and discussions to tackle homophobic stereotypes in football. The Spanish fan group City Boys Murcia have joined with gay & lesbian rights groups to organise a concert and display a banner against discrimination at the match Murcia – Roquetas.

Ireland to take the lead
In addition, the Football Association of Ireland kicks off its support for the FARE Week at tonight’s Republic of Ireland v Montenegro World Cup Qualifier. At half-time a children’s exhibition match will symbolise and celebrate diversity in Ireland. FARE members Sports Against Racism in Ireland and Balkan Alpe Adria Project organised a fan friendly between this afternoon in Dublin. Over 140 community and grassroots football initiatives have been planned designed to bring people together using football as the catalyst for interaction.

Professional Leagues and Players
In 2008 fourteen professional national leagues joined the Action Week. This season we will see again the involvement of top-leagues such as the English Premier League, the Super League in Greece or the Swedish Allsvenskan in addition to the professional leagues in Scotland, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Wales, Ireland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Anti-racism days under the motto “I am against racism” will be held at all Bundesliga and first division matches in Austria. Before kick-off three players of each team will make statements from the pitch. FARE partner FairPlay. Different Colours. One Game provides the clubs with banners, t-shirts for escort kids and white & black cards to be presented by the players and referees.

In England and Wales all 92 professional football clubs participate in the One Game, One Community Weeks of Action, alongside hundreds of community and club events.

UEFA top competitions get behind
The Action Week is channelling the power of football to get a message across to the millions of people touched by game. For the first time UEFA involves all 48 teams of the UEFA Europa League teams (22 October) in addition to the UEFA Champions League (20 & 21 October) in the FARE initiative. During match day three, one million fans will directly engage with a message of inclusion across 40 stadiums.

Fans involvement
Right from the establishment of the FARE network in 1999, football fans have been at the forefront to challenge racism. In the Spanish Liga A the Seville fan club Gate 22 will organise an anti-racism choreography at the match Sevilla FC – RCD Espanyol. The fan association Señales de Humo is going to display a banner at Atletico de Madrid – Real Madrid on 19th October and will organize friendly matches with minority groups.

In Denmark the FC Copenhagen fan group Rude Lions is producing a big banner saying “All colors are beautiful”, and also display flags and small banners against sexism and homophobia. At FC Copenhagen's Europa League away match against PSV Eindhoven supporters will produce a tifo choreography against discrimination. Other major fan activities will take place in places like Italy, Germany, Croatia, Turkey, Israel, Russia, Slovakia and the host-countries of the EURO 2012 Poland and Ukraine.

Ethnic Minorities
A greater engagement with minority groups such as the Roma minority in parts of Eastern Europe is now an encouraging feature of the activities.

In Albania the citizens club of Shkodra organise a mini football competition featuring teams made up of Roma minorities, media staff and local government administrators. During the final a declaration against discrimination will be launched asking for improved living conditions for Roma and more opportunities for girls and women.

In neighboring Macedonia the Youth Forum-Bitola invites 200 kids of Roma and other minority backgrounds to the first league football match between FC Pelister and FC Pobeda. Both kids and the players of both teams will wear t-shirts carrying an anti-racism message. Also a banner will be displayed before kick-off.

Daniela Conti, from the Italian FARE member organisation UISP, commented,
The success story of the FARE Action Week every October is to mobilise and actively involve hundreds of grass-roots initiatives in a concerted effort, which are run overwhelmingly by volunteers.
It provides fans, ethnic minority and migrant groups, local amateur football teams and equal rights NGOs across the continent a unique opportunity to come together to celebrate the integrative power of the game. The ongoing work of so many groups to challenge discrimination every day becomes powerfully visible.

You can download the FARE poster as pdf here

The List of Activities during the FARE Action Week is constantly up-dated here