From Germany to Brazil, clubs, players and supporters are taking a united stand against racism and confront a problem that has marred the game for several years.
The extent of racism in football, and a series of incidents that hit the game in Brazil in particular, have made the country’s President Dilma Rousseff condemn racism in football ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Rousseff said that she wanted this year’s World Cup in her country to be known as the Cup of Peace and Anti-Racism.
‘The role of leaders in combating racism’
In 2014, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on political, civic and religious leaders to “strongly condemn messages and ideas based on racism, racial superiority or hatred as well as those that incite racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”
In football, players and managers have played an important role in raising awareness of racial abuse inside stadiums.
As role models, players are key figures in the fight against racism not only to encourage others to speak up but also to pressure football governing bodies to take action.
“Football stadiums are just a reflection of what is going on in society,” said Chelsea’s Cameroonian international striker Samuel Eto’o in an interview.
Last year, Schalke 04 midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who led his team off the field after being racially abused by fans in January 2013, became an ambassador forthe UN anti-racism day in sport.
On the day, Boateng compared racism to a disease and said:
“It’s a dangerous and infectious virus which is strengthened by indifference and inaction.”
“When I played for Ghana, I learned how to fight malaria. Simple vaccines are not enough. You also have to get to the root of the problem, to dry out infected areas where the carriers proliferate. I think that racism and malaria have a lot in common”, he added.
Ahead of the World Cup the issues around racism in football have mobilised the Brazilian football, the country’s governing bodies and its society at large.
The São Paulo club Santos launched a campaign to raise awareness of prejudice in and outside football grounds, in which the club offered the fans the possibility to add an anti-racism message to their team’s replica jerseys free of cost.
The Cypriot club APOEL FC is organising a series of activities, including an online anti-racism campaign and a video featuring players sending messages against racism.
For APOEL’s next home match against Appollon, the children that accompany the players will wear Fare t-shirts and the team’s captain an armband with an anti-racism message.
On the day, the club’s official store staff will also wear t-shirts featuring an anti-racism message and the tickets will say ‘No to racism’.
The English Football Association (FA) has recently launched a new campaign that aims to encourage those who feel that they have been discriminated against, or have witnessed discriminatory behaviour, to report it.
The campaign features series of four animated short films and guidance booklets explaining to players and supporters how to report discrimination in football.
In Germany, the Football Association (DFB) and the country’s Bundesliga called for clubs, fans and schools to get involved in the weeks of action against racism.
All 36 clubs playing the in Bundesliga 1 and 2 have pledged to get involved, including Hertha BSC, SV Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund or Dynamo Dresden.
In Italy, a country that in 2013 saw players, including Mario Balotelli, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Paul Pogba, being racially abused in a number of matches, several events will mark the day to combat the plight.
The organisation IO Tifo Positivo launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of racism in sport through the hashtag #tweetoffracism. Professional clubs, including Inter Milan, have joined the initiative.
Fratelli del Mondo. #tweetoffracism
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter) March 20, 2014
Brothers of the World. #tweetoffracism
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter) March 20, 2014
As part of the weeks against racism in March 2014, 27 memorabilia of different clubs and players of the Serie A will be auctioned to raise funds for football initiatives that promote social inclusion.
Equality for all
From 15th to the 30th of March, the English organisation Level Playing Field are running their weeks of action for clubs and others to develop and highlight the positive work they do for disabled supporters.
Fare believes in an inclusive sport free of discrimination. Reporting abuse and discrimination is one means through which we can highlight issues and challenge denial.
Fare can help you to make reports and ensure appropriate action is taken.
To learn more about this and report an incident, please go here.