Ex-Pro's kick off Scottish initiative20 September 2005

A group of ex-professional football stars have come together in an attempt to prevent racism against asylum seekers in Scottish schools. Former Partick Thistle stars Derek Whyte and Gerry Britton will work with FARE partner Show Racism the Red Card (Scotland) to provide football coaching combined with educational sessions designed to dispel racist myths against asylum-seekers. The initiative will start in 10 Glasgow primary and secondary schools before being rolled out across the whole of Scotland.

At the launch, Whyte, a former Scotland international who is now a television pundit, said, “As footballers, we're delighted to do whatever we can to give asylum seekers the welcome they deserve in Glasgow. Players such as Zinedine Zidane, Dado Prso and Rudi Vata come from asylum-seeking backgrounds and are great examples of what refugees and asylum seekers can bring to Scotland.”

Recently there has been an increase in the number of racially motivated attacks in Scotland, particularly on the Muslim community. During July 2005, police in Strathclyde, home to the majority of Scotland's Muslims, reported a 27% rise in racist incidents, on Tayside the increase was 76%, while Lothian and Borders Police reported a rise of 50%.

Simon Hodgson, of the Scottish Refugee Council, said he was pleased to support the project and added, “The potential for football to break down barriers, on the field, in the changing room and on the touchline, is tremendous. We hope the resolve and commitment … in tackling racism in football will be just as effective in countering prejudice towards people seeking sanctuary in Scotland.”

The project is a partnership between the group, the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association, Glasgow council, and Show Racism the Red Card.