The debate, organised in cooperation with UEFA and The European Parliament’s Friends of Football group, will take place after the launch of an exhibition on the subject in the Parliament.
“Sport can bring different groups together for opportunities in the field of social inclusion. We can also see that the problems of society, such as racism and xenophobia, are reflected in sports stadia,” said Emine Bozkurt.
The objective of the exhibition and the debate is to raise awareness of the importance of diversity in sport and the social role it can play. In the debate Together opportunities and challenges are discussed in the sport, including by speakers such as Michael van Praag, chairman of the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) and Piara Powar of the Fare network will take part in the debate.
There will be a focus on best practices: successful projects where integration and acceptance have played a major role. This will include the UEFA Respect campaign project on the elimination of discrimination, the English Premier League’s internships programme at clubs and the KNVBs pioneering work with the LGBT community.
Bozkurt argues that the time for change has long passed, “Initiatives are having an impact but we still see racism on pitches and inside stadiums and homosexuality in football is still very taboo. Recent research by the English Federation of Disability Sport shows that a majority of athletes with disabilities have limited opportunities to participate in a sport.
“Sport needs to take the lead to bring values which must be present in all layers of diversity and equality. We hope this debate and exhibition can contribute to a strong policy and action at EU level, by governments and at the sports club level.”
The debate and the exhibition will take place Tuesday, October 8th at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.