Racism Breaks the Game07 November 2006

Exciting news from Romania! From October 27 – 29, The Romanian Football Federation, in cooperation with The Open Society Institute’s Roma Initiative Office, The National Council for Combating Discrimination, The Monitoring Press Agency, and The European Roma Grassroots Organisation, organised the campaign “Racism Breaks the Game” to stimulate social dialogue and promote tolerance and fair play through football. This series of actions was part of the FARE Week Against Racism in Football.

The campaign involved players during all nine games of the First Romanian Football League wearing campaign t-shirts and holding two banners. The t-shirts and banners introduced a simple but direct anti-racist message. All games were televised and included a brief discussion about racism, reaching an estimated audience of over 2.3 million, whilst a further 130,000 people were present in the stadiums.

The campaign also included a football tournament for children where 16 teams took part in a competition called “Football against Racism”, including children’s teams from the most famous clubs in Bucharest. The children wore the same t-shirts.

The campaign was picked up by newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, which featured on its front page a picture of the most famous and popular Roma player. The front page also included photos of some famous black players. The page was printed in yellow and grey rather than black and white, with the headline “Imagine world football without black, as it is on this page…there would be no Pele and no Ronaldinho.”….. “Some fans hate black, racism breaks the game”…….“This is how a world where racists win would look.”
The paper also featured an editorial signed by the most famous sport journalist in Romania, Catalin Tolontan, dedicated to the fight against racism. Gazeta Sporturilor is one of the most widely read papers in the country, with an estimated week-end edition readership of 800,000

Almost all national newspapers printed articles about the campaign in their weekend editions and the radio and video spots were broadcast by a significant number of media outlets. In total, the campaign is estimated to have reached a minimum of 3 million people and is envisaged as a first step in a year-long campaign promoting anti-racism through football.