UEFA Director of Communications, William Gaillard, and European Commissioner for Education and Culture, Ján Figel’, are to respond to calls from anti- racism campaigners for urgent and renewed action against racism and discrimination in football, at a major conference on the issue this weekend.
Gaillard and Figel’ will address more than 100 members of the FARE network at the conference in Bratislava on the 8th and 9th April, before fielding questions from the campaigners, fans and NGO representatives who are working to challenge racism in the game.
The conference will bring together campaigners from 19 European countries in an effort to co-ordinate and share good practice and keep up the pressure on the governing bodies of the game.
Dusan Tittel, General Secretary of the Slovak Football Association will also address the conference. Tittel, will report on progress made in tackling racism in Slovakian football since the National team were made to play behind closed doors for the racist chanting directed at England s black players in October 2002 in a EURO 2004 qualifier in Bratislava.
The conference forms part of the continuing work of the network and will also highlight the plight of the Roma people in Central and Eastern Europe and other discriminations in football.
Commissioner Ján Figel’, responsible for sport, stated,
“I applaud the FARE network for holding this conference and I fully support the key messages it promotes. The educational value of sport and the use of sports — above all football — to fight racism and discrimination: These are also the objectives underlined in article III-282 of the draft Constitutional Treaty, where sport is mentioned for the first time ever at Community level”.
„I am confident that in the future, with this new legal basis, we will be able to work together even closer to give racism and xenophobia the red card!”
Daniel Milo, Director of Ludia Proti Rasizmu (People Against Racism), Slovakian FARE members and the organisers of the conference commented,
“Racism in football is still a massive problem in Central and Eastern Europe and we hope that by hosting this conference the importance of campaigning in these regions will be highlighted”.
“Football is hugely popular in Slovakia, as it is in many parts of Europe and the world, so it is essential that we channel the power of the game to encourage racial harmony and respect for different cultures”.
The conference is supported by the European Commission, DG Education and Culture, under the programme “Support for European discussion projects organised by NGOs” and by the UEFA Charity portfolio.