Football unites Alps, Adriatic and Balkans08 August 2007

International youth tournaments in Montenegro and Serbia, with finals in Bosnia & Herzegovina, 4-12 August 2007.

The “Football Unites the Alps, Adriatic and Balkans” project launched its activities for the year with a regional tournament against Balkan nationalism in the Serbian town of Paracin on Saturday, 4 August. The tournament was won by the youth team of Rad Belgrade, who along with the winners of another regional tournament in Pljevelja (Montenegro) will travel to the finals in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina, on 12 August.

Youth teams from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia will be competing in Sarajevo as well as coming together to celebrate a festival against racism, chauvinism and intolerance in the Balkans. A FARE information brochure containing statements by leading players against racism and nationalism in the Balkans has been produced to accompany the tournament and will also be used in school workshops.

The initiative is being organised by FARE and the Balkans Alps Adriatic Project (BAAP) with the support of UEFA, Nike's Stand Up, Speak Up campaign and the King Baudouin Foundation. The finals are being staged by the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Recent incidents such as those that occurred at the UEFA Cup first-leg tie between Partizan Belgrade (Serbia) and NK Zrinjski (Bosnia & Herzegovina) in Mostar on 19 July, which saw nationalist violence by Partizan fans, have underlined how important this initiative is. The Belgrade club were excluded from this year's UEFA Cup competition and handed a 30,000 euro fine. Along with other clubs in the Balkans, Partizan have taken part in the European FARE Week of Action in recent years and have been active against racism in football themselves, taking up the fight against racism towards black players. For the most part the problem of hypernationalism among their own fans had not surfaced. All the more reason for FARE to target this area and encourage youth exchanges between clubs in the Balkans.

FARE partner in the Balkans
Balkans Alps Adriatic Project (BAAP), Alexander Rakowitz
Tel.: 00381-637337833 and 0043-69911135835