Landmark Event Against Racism In Football06 March 2003

The “Unite Against Racism” conference has been hailed as a landmark event in the struggle to rid the game of the evil of racism. Jointly organised by FARE, UEFA and the English FA and Hosted at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge; the event brought together 52 European football associations and many leading leagues and clubs to exchange ideas and experience. The conference was co-chaired by Mike Lee of UEFA and Lord Herman Ouseley of Kick It Out and representing FARE.

”Those people in power, those people who are here as the head of UEFA, the head of our national bodies, the head of clubs and running organisations. It’s what you do that makes a difference. If people know they are going to be punished, people do things.”

”There is no reason other than to hope that it will make a difference, that UEFA said to Slovakia their next game will be played behind closed doors. Because they [Slovakia] don’t want that to happen in future, they will do something about it.”

”The whole nature of enforcement is critical. People need to know what is acceptable behaviour, what are the standards that we are setting for entry into our grounds, and what we expect by way of compliance; and if you don’t, what is going to happen. These are very powerful messages that clubs around Europe are now saying to fans and we have to perpetuate that throughout all our leagues, professional and amateur.” Lord Herman Ouseley (Kick It Out & FARE).

The conference was designed as an opportunity for football authorities to discuss practical measures to challenge racism in football. Care was taken to prevent this becoming just another “talking shop”. Experienced anti-racist groups were present in the workshops to present practical examples and to stimulate discussion about what can be done in the future. It is hoped that the event will be used as a “springboard for action across Europe”.

”What we will do with the feedback from this conference must be the question. What is next, so that the conference is not just stopping here and nothing happening, is all our concern. We will have to integrate a number of new elements into the guides to good practice, which should be our working instrument for the future throughout the European continent. We shall of course report about this conference in detail to our executive committee in particular the President. We shall continue to work with FARE and together we shall define the methods of how to monitor the progress that we can achieve.”

”Together we can do it. Together we can make a difference. Let’s unite against racism.” Gerhard Aigner (CEO of UEFA).

FARE and UEFA have prepared a draft guide to good practice. Click here to download the PDF (50Kb).

Amongst those speaking at the conference were:

  • Per Omdal, UEFA Vice-President;
  • Gerhard Aigner, UEFA Chief Executive;
  • David Dein, Arsenal and FA Vice-Chairman;
  • David Davies, Acting CEO The FA;
  • Frantisek Laurinec, President Slovak FA;
  • Dr. h.c. Alfred Sengle, German FA Vice-President;
  • Ken Bates, Chairman Chelsea FC;
  • Piara Powar, National Co-ordinator of Kick It Out, representing the Football Against Racism in Europe network;
  • Garth Crooks, ex-player and broadcaster;
  • Paul Elliott, ex-player and campaigner;
  • Gordon Taylor, PFA Chief Executive, plus some leading players from the FA Premier League.