Football without frontiers01 August 2006

This year the anti-racist football tournament in Kittlitz in the German state of Saxony is taking place for the fourth time. Inspired by the Mondiali Antirazzisti in Italy, the tournament stands out clearly from others held in the region.

The organisers attach great importance to the involvement of teams from the immediate neighbouring countries of Poland and the Czech Republic as well as of various groups (ethnic German resettlers, asylum seekers, the disabled) in a region where there have been a spate of attacks by extreme-right groups and individuals and latent racism is a part of everyday life.

Through 'direct interaction' the organisers wish to acquaint people with one another and thus encourage understanding, acceptance and consideration for others. The tournament is not meant to be a competition in the conventional sense. Playing the game in a spirit of fun and tolerance is what is important.

Football is played all over the world and the language of football is understood all over the world. The tournament is intended as a platform for stimulating an exchange between vastly different groups, lifestyles and cultures. But it is also a podium for enjoying a common culture and discussing the negative features of the cult that is football. Violence (1,500 fans are classed as violent in Saxony alone), racism (racist chanting), the commercialisation of the game (constantly rising prices) and the obsession with security (the spread of CC TV, banning orders) are now an everyday part of stadium life in Germany (and elsewhere). Previous tournaments have even witnessed provocation by right-wing youth.

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