Fans, footballers and football clubs in Spain are making a defiant stance against racism as part of the Football Against Racism in Europe Action Week.
Proceedings will kick-off with UEFA’s high profile Champion’s League games between Villareal – Benfica Lisboa on 18 October and the Real Madrid – Rosenborg Trondheim on 19 October. Watched by thousands, and with a TV audience of millions, each team will enter the pitch accompanied by children wearing “Unite Against Racism” T-shirts. Similar actions are planned for UEFA’s other Champion’s League games on the same dates.
In the Spanish domestic league, fan groups from the length and breadth of the country have united in a historic meeting to coordinate their activities as part of the FARE Action Week. The groups have decided that enough is enough, after Spain made international headlines following a string of racist incidents last season. Twelve different ultra fan groups of various Liga 1 and 2 clubs are to display a banner saying “ultras antiracista unidos” (Anti-racist Ultras United).
Carlo Balestri, of FARE partner Progetto Ultrà, who have been working with Spanish groups commented,
“The involvement in the Action Week of numerous Spanish fan groups is definitely great news. Furthermore, all the anti-racist fan groups from the Iberic Peninsula have recently met and have set up a long-term Action Plan in order to carry out common initiatives against racism and discrimination in Spanish football. Participating in the meeting, I was incredibly pleased to witness such an important moment and such dedication, commitment and coordination by these groups in the fight against racism: I'm sure the future will bring us even more good news from the Iberic Peninsula.”
The activities form part of FARE’s 6 Action Week, which kicked off last Wednesday and will last until 25th October. Launched in the 2001/2002 season with initiatives in just 9 countries, this year’s Action Week now spans a massive 35 separate countries. The range of activities has dramatically increased this year with new groups from the former Soviet Union, the Balkans and now Spain becoming involved.
UEFA has “Unite Against Racism” activities planned for the following Champions League matches:
- 18 October 2005: FC Bayern – Juventus, Rapid Vienna – Club Brugge, Ajax Amsterdam – FC Thun, Sparta Prague – Arsenal FC, Panathinaikos – FC Barcelona, Udinese – Werder Bremen, Manchester United – Lille, Villarreal – Benfica
- 19 October: Fenerbahçe – FC Schalke 04, AC Milan- PSV, Olympique Lyon – Olympiacos, Real Madrid- Rosenborg, Anderlecht- FC Liverpool, Chelsea – Real Betis, FC Porto – Inter, Rangers – Artmedia Bratislava.
The Spanish groups and football clubs involved, includes: Brigadas Amarillas ( CF Cádiz, Liga 1), Riazor Blues (RC Deportivo La Coruña, Liga 1), Biris Norte (Sevilla FC, Liga 1), Peña Mujika (Real Sociedad San Sebastian. Liga 1 ), City Boys (Real Murcia CF, Liga 2), Kolectivo Sur (Jerez CD, Liga 2), Fossa Garrafoni (Real Valladolid CF, Liga 2), Bukaneros (Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, 2nd Division B), Resaca Castallana (Burgos, 2nd Division B), Segovirras (Gimnástica Segoviana, 3rd Division), Indar Gorri, Lizarra Hintxa (CD Pamplona, 3rd Divsion ), Comandos verdes (Toledo), Estanda norte (Vitoria).