Problems in Greece but Athens round- table a success21 June 2011

Against a background of economic turmoil, and as the self- suspension of the Greek FA to clean up football in the country continues, a roundtable organised by the FARE network brought together football stakeholders in Athens in April.

The meeting was in response to the rising number of racist and xenophobic incidents in Greek stadiums, the event sought to initiate a dialogue between players, officials and supporters on the issues.

Incidents over the course of the season included insults directed at Albanian international Kristi Vangjeli of Super League club Aris Thessaloniki late last year, and by attacks on French International, Djibril Cisse and Cedric Kante of Panathinaikos after the Athens derby in March.

Call for more action
The attacks lead to widespread concern and a call for clubs and their fans to do more to tackle the problems they face.

A fans meeting on April 13th brought together supporters from groups including the fan club of Aris, Proodeutiki Toumba from Thessaloniki and representatives from Radical Fans United.

The roundtable the next day brought together football stakeholders in the country and was joined by Djibril Cisse, Panionios player Bennard Yao Kumordzi and former Cameroon international, Jean Wanga.

Greek footballing bodies and local NGOs also took participate in the event, Superleague, ASAP, the Greek players association, and the Ministry of Education contributed their views.

FARE has been working with the Black European Womens Council for a number of years to run activities during the Action Weeks, with the support of the Superleague but the need for more action to be taken with fans and community groups was a key outcome.

‘Football should be a way of uniting us’
The round-table was lead by Athens-based FARE Board member, Yvette Jarvis, who said, “We want to work with the football authorities, fans and progressive voices to ensure that challenges are made, educational measures undertaken and a sense of tolerance is reinstated.

“We have many problems in Greece, sport should be a means of uniting us, not a focus of division.”