Israel steps up campaign in second Week of Action28 October 2007

This weekend Israel has participated in the FARE Action Week for the second time.

Pre-match anti-racism ceremonies were due to be held at all six of Israel's Premier League matches. “We have been able to mobilize all NIF's Israeli stakeholders in the KIO Israel campaign – the Israel FA, Israel PFA and Israel Police – as active partners in FARE Action Week”, said Itzik Shanan, Director of Communications and Public Education with the New Israel Fund

UEFA's deputy director-general, Patrick Gasser, visited Israel this weekend as part of the country's Week of Action initiatives.

Gasser, who is responsible for UEFA's education and public responsibility programs, was sent by UEFA president Michel Platini, who was unable to visit Israel but was said to have been “excited” by the plans.

Gasser was set to attend Sunday's Premier League game between league leaders Betar Jerusalem and bottom-placed Maccabi Tel Aviv at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium.

Before the start of the match the players on both teams wore shirts adorned with the FARE and “Kicking Racism out of Football” logos. Also, a bouquet of balloons was set to be released into the air carrying the slogan “Kicking Racism out of Football.”

The visit was coordinated in conjunction with the New Israel Fund, the body which has been promoting the Kick Racism Out of Football campaign in Israel for the past two years.

The NIF has organized visits to Israel by leading figures including former Liverpool and England international John Barnes.

“We are very excited that Mr. Platini sent one of his deputies,” said Itzik Shanan “and we believe this will give our action week a significant boost.”

While in Israel, Gasser was due to meet with IFA representatives as well as Sports Minister Galeb Majadle.

Itzik Shanan added: “Our Racism and Incitement Index shows a very clear decrease in racist and violent incidents at matches this season, and this is very encouraging for our campaign. This is part of a positive process and heightened awareness of the harm being done by racism and violence, to society in general, but also football in particular, and this has made our job much easier in mobilizing support from our partners”.