Grassroots up and Champions League down, is the message from action weeks21 November 2013

The2013Fareactionweekshascometoaclosewiththemessageofinclusionandanti-discriminationreachingmillionsthroughthetopofthegameandinvolvingtensofthousandsofsupportersandparticipantsatthegrassroots.

Over 2000 activities took place in 48 countries over a two-week period, with the top flight of the game involved through the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, and FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The messages from community groups was clear and consistent, football can be the means of tackling discrimination and highlighting inclusion.

Minorities and migrants
Many of the activities used football as a tool to work with ethnic and other minorities and were initiated by fan groups, grassroots clubs and educational institutes.

Balon Mundial from Torino, A.S.D Londeno Calcio Giornata, also from Italy, and Šport spája in Slovakia held tournaments for refugees and migrants. In Poland, the Brazilian player Edi Andradina and the Cameroon midfielder Herve Tchami visited a school to discuss how racism affects them.

In reaction to Europe’s restrictive refugee and asylum policy that leaves thousands of people destitute, many fan groups expressed their support for migrants and disapproval of these policies. Leading discussions, outreach events and choreographies in their stadiums were White Angels from Zagreb, Oldenburger Faninitiative, and an alliance of fan groups of Fortuna Düsseldorf of the Bundesliga.

The players of Tennis Borussia Berlin sent out a message of “refugees welcome” with special t-shirts. Ultras Babelsberg challenged “fortress Europe” and supporters club Friedhofstribüne at Sportklub in Austria stated that “migration is not a crime.”

Borussia Dortmund fans joined many others in setting out anti-racist messages. They included Kolektivo Sur, ultras from Xeres Deportivo in Andulacia, Spain and Brigadas Amarillas, ultras from Cadiz, who performed a “We are football people” choreography.

Social inclusion and Roma
The Roma are being vilified across Europe, a number of organisations dedicated their activities to work towards the social inclusion of Roma and traveller peoples. The Door, an NGO based in Albania, held a day of activities for Roma children in the city of Shkoder.

Leeds Gate, a UK community group, staged a fun day for youngsters from the community.

Fight homophobia
Other groups marked the Football People weeks by supporting the fight for the rights of LGBT people and fighting homophobia in the game. AFC Wimbledon became the first British club to support the German supporters’ initiative Football fans against homophobia and Denmark fans spoke out against homophobia during their match against Italy by staging a colourful choreography.

In Bulgaria, the Association Gay Sports came together through a tournament and Paris Arc-en-Ciel, France’s first LGBT club, joined in with a banner against racism and Les Dégommeuses said no to homophobia, sexism and racism.

Löwenfans gegen Rechts, fans of 1860 Munich, organised a series of events to fight homophobia in football. In Amsterdam, there was a mini-conference hosted by the John Blankenstein Foundation in Amsterdam.

Empowerment of women
Berlin group Discover Football took part in the weeks for the second year and hosted a successful book launch in the German capital.

Sonja Klümper said “We wanted to join the tens of thousands actively taking a stand against discrimination in football. We are proud to be part of the movement and celebrated the Football People weeks with the publication of our handbook ‘Claiming the pitch’ which is a collection of female voices and perspectives on football’ and the premiere of our film about Discover Festival 2013.”

For more information check out our overall list of activities where all of the events of the 2013 activities that we know of.

Join the Football People Flickr group for more photos. It is an open group and everyone is invited to add their Action Weeks photos to it.