The resolution identified football as a breeding ground for the growing normalisation of racism, fascism and xenophobia across Europe and demands that member states and national sports federations, in particular football clubs, take urgent action to counteract the scourge of rising xenophobia in stadiums.
In a resolution passed with 355 votes to 90 and 39 abstentions, MEPs denounced the insufficient measures taken against fascist and neo-Nazi groups, citing the attack that killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, the murder of UK MP Jo Cox in 2016 and the recent attack by fascist squads in Italy against MEP Eleonora Forenza as examples of the rising threat.
MEPs argued that the impunity enjoyed by far-right organisations in some member states is one of the reasons behind the rise in violent actions, affecting society as a whole and targeting particular minorities such as black Europeans/people of African descent, Jews, Muslims, Roma, non-EU nationals, LGBTI people, and persons with disabilities.
It also referred to several incidents involving fascists in Poland, Greece, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Latvia and the Nordic countries.
Stop racism in sport
Condemning and punishing those responsible and promoting positive educational activities targeting young fans, in cooperation with schools and civil society organisations, were amid suggestions discussed by the MEP for tackling the issues within the context of sport.
The parliament also called on EU member states to ban neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups, with a proposal to set up anti-hate crime units in police forces to ensure such crimes are investigated and prosecuted. National authorities were urged to “effectively ban neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups and any other foundation or association that exalts and glorifies Nazism and fascism”.
Fare executive director Piara Powar said: “We welcome the European Parliaments comments on the threat the far-right poses in European football, some other sports and society as a whole.
“Tackling the growth of neo-nazi groups, and the causes of their appeal is a matter of urgency. There are important steps that have already been taken in football, we intend to continue to take all opportunities to prevent any normalisation of their presence.”
Troubled by reports of collusion between political leaders, political parties and law enforcement with neo-fascists and neo-Nazis in some member states, the European Parliament called on member states to “clearly condemn and sanction” hate crime, hate speech and scapegoating by politicians and public officials that normalise and reinforce hatred and violence.
Co-ordinating with social media companies to tackle the spread of racism, fascism and xenophobia through the internet was also discussed.
Another suggestion to tackle the problem was for EU countries to set up “exit programmes” to help individuals to leave violent neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups. MEPs stressed the importance of education, to increase history awareness among the youth and call for a clear rejection of the fascist crimes of the past.