In association with Serbian first-division club FK Smederevo, FARE Serbia and the Balkan Alpe Adria Project (BAAP), the network Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) organised an international football tournament against discrimination and nationalism in the Balkans in the small Serbian town of Smederevo on 4-6 August 2006. In addition, the first-division clash between FK Smederevo and Mladost Apatin on 5 August was staged according to the motto 'Pokazi Rasizmu Crveni Karton' (Show Racism the Red Card').
Teams from Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Bulgaria and Serbia took part in the under-16 tournament, underlying their desire for a new beginning in the Balkans, free of racism, nationalism and violence.
The tournament was played to a very high standard on full-size pitches and had the support of the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF) and UEFA.
For BAAP spokesman Alexander Rakowitz, the tournament was a great success and represented an important step forward:
“The highlight was the joint party for the players on Saturday evening, when the youngsters sang and danced together to pop and Roma music. To see how the helpers and young people partied together beyond all ethnic and religious differences, building bridges across the divides riven by the civil war, was very moving and encouraging for the future.”
“Next year we are going to try and get more youth teams involved by staging qualifying rounds in Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. The final tournament should then take place in Sarajevo, something that has yet to happen in youth football in this form since the beginning of the Yugoslav wars.”
Aleksandar Jevdic, business manager of FK Smederevo and president of FARE Serbia, explained the motivation behind the campaign:
“We first had the idea of forming a branch of FARE in Serbia and Montenegro at the international FARE conference in Bratislava in 2005. Our aim was to fight racism, nationalism, violence and other negative influences in our football.”
“The tournament in Smederevo is the third major event that FARE Serbia have organised since 2005. First, there were the anti-racism stadium activities by Serbian first-division clubs such as Partizan and Red Star Belgrade during the FARE Action Week, then we organised an indoor tournament against racism and now this has been the first youth tournament against racism and nationalism in the Balkans since the war.”
As well as hosts FK Smederevo, the youth teams of Vardas Skopje from Macedonia, FK Sarajevo from Bosnia and Herzegovina, HNK Orient Rijeka from Croatia, CSKA Sofia from Bulgaria and FK Partizan Belgrade, OFK Belgrade and FK Mladost Apatin from the autonomous Serbian province of Vojvodina contested the under-16 tournament.
In the final hosts FK Smederevo faced FK Partizan from Belgrade, which is 50 kilometres away. Partizan won 2-1 and, like all the other participating teams, really enjoyed the peaceful and friendly atmosphere during the three-day tournament. “Can't do we do something like this at home” was therefore the question most frequently asked by the 160 or so youngsters and helpers after the event.