A day before the kick-off of the fourth European-wide Action Week against Racism and Discrimination in Football (16 – 28 October) it is clear that it will be a record participation: In 23 European countries more than 300 fan groups, clubs, national associations and ethnic minority & migrant organisations will be involved in the Action Week of the FARE network (Football Against Racism in Europe). As in previous years the FARE Action Week is financially supported by the Anti-Discrimination Programme of the European Commission and UEFA.
Particularly encouraging this year is the strong involvement of football governing bodies and the anti-racist initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe some of them countries where racism inside football stadiums constitutes a serious problem.
At the forthcoming home matches of the Belgrade clubs Red Star, FK Rad and Champions League participant Partizan the players will present red cards against racism during the line-up. In Slovakia the National Football Association in partnership with the FARE partner People against Racism will devote an entire round of the first division to the fight against racism: all teams will hold red cards against racism before the games kick-off. Activities which target racism will also be organised in Romanian and Ukrainian stadiums. Further Events will take place in Poland, Macedonia, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Hungary and Belarus.
The involvement of all 92 English professional football clubs in the National Week of Action will constitute a highlight of the pan-European efforts to kick racism out of the game. For example, tens of thousand of Arsenal fans will raise messages against racism during their match at Highbury, similar anti-racist day events will take place all over the country.
For the first time big clubs from the Netherlands have joined the FARE campaign: Players of PSV Eindhoven and Ajax will show racism the red card, the match programme will be dedicated to the issue of racism and an anti-racist film clip will be screened in the stadium.
In Austria, among other activities, stadium events will be launched at the matches of national champions Austria Vienna and runner-up Grazer AK. Fans of Vienna Sportklub have produced a bilingual fanzine with their counterparts at ASK Inter Bratislava (Slovakia). The Norwegian Show Racism the Red Card campaign has organised a school competition, where players visited schools. During the Action Week prize giving ceremonies will be held during half-time of the home matches of the premier league clubs SK Brann Bergen, Tromso IL, SFK Lyn Oslo and Lillestrom SK.
UEFA is not only backing the FARE Action Week financially but also personally: UEFA staff footballers will play a team from the Geneva-based Africa-Suisse sporting organisation at the Stade de Colovray in Nyon. European football's governing body is also organising an exhibition prepared by FARE at the entrance to its House of European Football in Nyon.
In the framework of the extended Week of Action FARE also called for action against homophobia in sport. One attempt to find ways to tackle this taboo subject is a conference at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam hosted by the Foundation Homosport Netherlands.