UEFA is to host a conference in Poland which will look at issues of anti-racism and discrimination the European game.
UEFA, together with the players' union FIFPro and the governing body's partner in the anti-racism campaign, the pan-European Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, are finalising preparations for a keynote conference that will press home the message that racism, intolerance and discrimination have no place in the game.
The third Unite Against Racism Conference will be hosted by the Polish Football Association in Warsaw on 3 and 4 March, with some 250 delegates expected from national associations, clubs, leagues, non-governmental organisations, the media and representatives from the world of politics.
The objectives of the conference include raising awareness of the problems of racism and discrimination in football among the members of the football family; proposing positive and practical solutions for addressing racism in the game and in society; and sharing examples of good practice in different settings and among different actors – clubs, NGOs and supporters' groups.
Two previous conferences of this nature have taken place, in London in 2003 and in Barcelona in 2006, with the football community – players, officials, coaches and fans – joining together to look at key issues in what has become a central campaign within football.
UEFA and FARE have been partners for several years. The FARE movement brings together equality groups from across the continent, supporting them and helping create a united front against racism.
UEFA, in addition to providing significant financial assistance, uses its leading competitions to give a platform to anti-racism activities and to promote respect for diversity. A number of top European footballers have also lent their support over the years.
“We want to see the 'beautiful game' played without the cancer of racism,” says FARE. “Football is the biggest sport in the world and belongs to us all. It should be the right of every person to play, watch and discuss freely, without fear.
“Unfortunately, at all levels of the game, from amateur to international, there are incidents of racism – be it from fans, players, clubs or other football bodies. FARE believes that such behaviour, on and off the field, is unacceptable and unwanted by the majority of fans and players.”
In his invitation letter for the Warsaw conference, UEFA General Secretary David Taylor writes: “We now want to create an opportunity to review progress and renew our call for action. In particular, we want to record positive developments and in view of EURO 2012 look at the challenges facing us in the east and what more the European football family can do.”