The Mondiali Antirazzisti held its 17th edition last weekend (3 – 7 July) with a rejuvenated festival atmosphere and a focus on the rights of citizenship for migrants.
In a message that reinforced the power that sport has to bring about change, the first black Minister in an Italian government, Cecile Kyenge, addressed the gathering on Saturday night that “the Mondiali is good example of integration through sport” and “the best response to racism”.
Part of the Mondiali’s message to Italian parliamentarians is to lobby for young people from an immigrant background to be registered to play sport on equal terms with their Italian counterparts. The situation in Italy is similar to many EU countries where so-called ‘third-party nationals’ are not formally allowed to be a part of every day activities, including playing sport.
Working with Ultras groups
Alongside the multi-cultural festival the Mondiali is a unique sporting tournament that brings football supporter groups, activists and ethnic minorities to Italy from across Europe to celebrate the power they have to fight discrimination and change lives.
Cecile Kyenge, who was born in the Congo and has been the victim of hatred because of her new position, stressed the need to support similar initiatives in a country that has seen many high profile incidents of racism in football during the last year. “Not all of Italy is not racist but you have to develop and support good practices which bring people together to know one another. Sport can be one of those”, added the Minister.
She was speaking two days before the Pope visited the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he took up a similar theme and lambasted the developed world for its “globalisation of indifference” to the plight of migrants.
The idea of building a sporting and cultural festival that promoted sport for all was brought to life by the Italian Sport for All Association UISP, in cooperation with the research institute Istoreco Reggio Emilia, over 17 years ago as a means of celebrating the culture of Ultras groups and working with Ultras. Many of those groups still attend but in recent years there has been an added focus to reflect the growing diversity of Europe.
“Our vision of the future”
“We are very pleased with the re-orientation of the Mondiali into a multi-cultural festival that stands for equality and unity against intolerance’, said Carlo Balestri responsible for the department of international politics, co-operation and multi-culture at UISP.
“Across Europe we face an economic crisis that is also a social crisis. We are proud that the Mondiali is now a focus for supporters, ethnic minorities and others with an alternative and positive vision of the future.”
The event was held for the third year in Bosco Albergati, Castelfranco Emilia, in the region of Modena, with 158 teams, from 11 countries, representing 70 nationalities taking part in the football tournament that has been the pillar of the festival
In total 250 teams participated in sports that also included basketball, volleyball, touch rugby, softball and cricket. Eight thousand visitors attended during the four days of the event.
Alongside the sporting activities the Mondiali festival also featured music concerts, DJ’s, debates and other cultural activities.