The President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell has been joined by MEPs of different political families, campaigners and representatives of European football in Strasbourg where a formal resolution on racism in the game was adopted.
The one page document received more signatures than any other previous written resolution of the parliament with more than 420 MEP’s joining the call for action.
The resolution calls on all stakeholders in the game to do more to fight racism and asks for tougher sanctions for racial abuse on and off the pitch. UEFA is urged to introduce sporting sanctions, such as excluding clubs from competitions.
President Borrell declared the written declaration a formal resolution of the European Parliament and urged National governments and European football's authorities to tackle racism in football.
“The fundamental rights of every human being cannot be abandoned during a sporting event. I call for policies of the governments, UEFA and clubs. ” he said.
Borrell went on to stress that what happens in football can affect wider society on a global level.
“Football is a mirror of society, of all the good things but also of all the bad things. Racism and xenophobia are reflected in football and they are amplified. Its a theatre scenario, seen by millions and therefore the negative scenarios are seen all over the world.”
UEFA Director of Communications and Public Affairs, William Gaillard, underlined the commitment of the European Football's governing body and went onto to stress the importance of political support in the fight against racism.
“UEFA can be a pioneer in the fight against racism but we need the help of the European Parliament so we can fight all forms of discrimination, even beyond the borders of the European Union – be it racial, religious or sexual”.
NGO’s and fan groups from the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network had been lobbying MEP’s across the continent over the past three months stressing the urgency of the problem.
The initiator of the resolution Dutch MEP Emine Bozkurt said that the parliament will work together with the European Commission to achieve the goals of the resolution:
“A united parliament scored a brilliant goal against racism but the game
continues. I will tell Employment Commissioner Spidla to urge football clubs that they have to create a racism free working environment as outlined in Article 13a of the Amsterdam treaty.”
Former Chelsea, Celtic and Bari player, Paul Elliott, was in Strasbourg representing the Fooball Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network and welcomed the Resolution.
“Today racism is the most serious danger for football, therefore leadership in the fight against racism is crucial. We simply can’t tolerate it anymore.
“Nobody is above the law and everybody has the right to enjoy the beautiful game no matter what race, colour, creed or religion you are. Equal opportunity on the field of play and on the terraces is not a privilege but a fundamental right” added Elliott.
The five MEP's behind the Declaration are Emine Bozkurt (European Socialists Party/Netherlands), Chris Heaton-Harris MEP (European People’s Party / UK), Cem Özdemir (Greens/ Germany), Alexander Nuno Alvaro (Liberals and Democrats/ Germany) and Claude Moraes (European Socialists/ UK).