The FARE Action Week has seen activities take place across the continent, from Tuesday until Thursday all clubs involved in the group phases of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League joined the ‘Unite Against Racism’ campaign and the forthcoming weekend promises a lot more.
Lord Herman Ouseley, Chairperson of Kick It Out, a UK FARE partner said:
The Uefa contribution to the FARE weeks of action, through the activities at the Champions League and Europa League games over the past week, has given a real boost to the many activities being organised by national bodies and grassroots campaigners, fans and NGO's.
In football we have the vehicle to reach out and engage directly with all sections of the population, in whichever part of the continent they reside, whatever their background. Highly visible messages such as those seen through the weeks of action are essential to ensure the anti-discrimination message is heard effectively.
I welcome the role that Uefa is playing in giving football leadership on this issue through the many initiatives that they are involved with directly and indirectly. Michel Platini, Gianni Infantino and their team in Nyon are to be commended for their work.
A truly pioneering project is taking place in Ireland, connecting the issues of Racism and Homophobia and identifying them as 'first cousins' in order to formulate a campaign in the context of UEFA Respect programme. A strategic alliance involving Insaka-Ireland AFC, the football club of the All Africa Youth Movement in Ireland and Dublin Devils FC, Ireland’s only gay football team, has been formed. The strategic alliance will be launched at a special friendly football game, hosted by the Law Society of Ireland. The event will take place on Sat. October 24.
In the UK, Sheffield-based FARE founder member Football Unites, Racism Divides will hold an event in memory of Ahmed Hassan, who died tragically in a car accident on his way back from the Mondiali Antirazzisti in Bologna, Italy. The Remember Ahmed tournament will see Ahmed’s friends and team-mates organise a football tournament in honour of their lost friend.
In Scotland, meanwhile, all Scottish professional clubs are participating in a fortnight of action. Recently, Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu claimed he was racially abused by some of his own team’s fans, an incident which has served to underline the importance of the Action Week.
The LFP and French anti-discrimination organisation LICRA have sent a promotional kit to all Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs. The clubs have been invited to use this at their league matches. Messages will be read out by PA announcers and team captains before the match and red “Football Against Racism” cards will be displayed as the players enter the pitch.
In Russia, first league club FC Zenit St. Petersburg will make an anti-racism demonstration by presenting a FARE banner before the match against FC Nalchik on Sunday. The FC Zenit Supporters Club has organised a multi-ethnic tournament and will meet with supporters from the Chechen club before the match. The very active fan club will invite additionally representatives from ethnic minority organizations to the league match.
In Italy, before Hellas Verona took on Pescina VG, the players of the two teams will unveil a banner against racism and it will remain in the stadium for the entire season, together with one prepared last year. Hellas Verona has been active within the FARE network for over a year, organising photo contests, and educating the club’s fans.
In Northern Ireland, Institute FC and Derry City FC joined forces for an event with over 50 children and adults from the respective clubs teaming up with children and adults from ethnic backgrounds to participate in fun coaching sessions and ‘Football for All’ workshops to promote mutual understanding and to celebrate diversity in the city.
In the Ukraine, messages against racism in football will be shown before the start of every game and stickers will be distributed among the fans. Flyers will also be given to stewards at each game, containing a list of racist and discriminatory symbols. The stewards will thus be able to identify these signs and prevent any potential issues.
‘All Colours Are Beautiful’
In Greece, the Superleague embraced the FARE Action Week by teaming up with the Black European Women’s Council for a multicultural display of this year’s slogan “All Colours Are Beautiful!”. In eight stadiums all over Greece 16 teams and 24 referees, all players were wearing multicoloured t-shirts brandishing the statement “red cart to racism and violence” and were accompanied onto the field by children from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Russia, Egypt, Africa, Afghanistan and Greece.
In Israel, the New Israel Fund (NIF) and the Israel FA, supported by the Sports Administration of the Ministry of Education and Israel Police, launched FARE Action Week with a series of events before and during Hapoel Beer Sheva's Premier League game against Maccabi Haifa. Israel children, fans of both teams, including Jews and Arabs, native born and immigrants played a friendly soccer game in Beer Sheva to open Action Week. In a pre-match anti-racism ceremony the players of both teams spoke out against racism and praised the way football brings different peoples together.
Maccabi Haifa's veteran defender Alon Harazi said,
I am proud that our squad has five Muslim players, six players and an assistant coach who are Christians, and the rest of us are Jews. We all feel like one family both on and off the field.