Holland star backs international anti-racism football tournament29 June 2004

Chelsea and Holland defender, Mario Melchiot, has offered his support to an international football festival in Italy where thousands of amateur footballers from across Europe will flock to make a stand against racism and discrimination in early July.

The “Mondiali Antirazzisti”, which translates into the Anti-racist World Cup, has been organised by Italian fan group Progetto Ultra, who are members of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network. It will bring more than 400 teams – young, old, male and female – from more than 20 countries together.

The Mondiali, which has become a huge footballing festival since it was founded in 1997, has received widespread recognition for using the game to bring together the diverse cultures and people of Europe and send out a united message against racism and discrimination, whilst celebrating cultural diversity.

The event is particularly successful in attracting some of the most difficult to reach footballing groups in Italy – the Ultras – and Germany. This year 10 British teams will compete in the event, a number that has grown over the years.

The “Mondiali Antirazzisti” kicks off on Wednesday 7th July in Montecchio and a number of teams from the UK and Ireland will be participating in the festival.

Chelsea and Holland defender, Mario Melchiot, offered his support to the Mondiali:
“The anti- racist World Cup is a great idea and one I’m more than happy to support. It’s great when the game can be used to encourage everyone to come together and mix.”

Kick It Out Director, Piara Powar, commented:
“When the Mondiali first began there where 80 participants mainly coming from Italy. Now the festival has grown to attract thousands of participants from countries across Europe but around the world.”

“The success of such a footballing festival illustrates the power of the game in bringing so many different people together and underlines the growing support there is for anti- racist initiatives across Europe.”