UEFA wants greater ethnic minority participation19 January 2004

UEFA says that efforts to combat racism in football can only be totally successful if there is greater ethnic minority participation in the game at all levels – and especially if a greater number of ethnic minorities go to stadiums to watch matches.

Good Practice
FARE recently helped UEFA prepare a “Guide to Good Practice” that was issued to the European football community as part of a concerted anti-racism drive. Both FARE and UEFA agree that the number of black spectators should reflect the amount of black players.

The guide states, “Involving ethnic minority fans and migrant groups in campaigns against racism in football is vitally important. One of the most striking aspects of all European football is the discrepancy between the high number of black players on the field and the lack of black faces in the crowd.”

Racist abuse
It is estimated that some 15 per cent of all professional footballers in England and Wales are black. However, a recent survey of fans revealed that ethic minorities on average comprised less than one per cent of season ticket holders at English Premier League clubs. Alarmingly, 27 per cent of fans said they had heard racist abuse directed at players during the season.

Model project
The guide named the Football Unites, Racism Divides project in the English city of Sheffield as a model project, in that it ran football-related activities which helped counter the exclusion of young ethnic minority people – “demonstrating the way in which football, education and community involvement can be linked to bring about positive change.”

Hungarian example
Another example comes from Hungary, where the Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights organisation in Budapest formed the African Star football team. The team offers refugees and people of African descent the opportunity to play football. A summer football tournament also helps bring people together.

Click to download the UEFA guide to good practice (5Mb PDF file) from the UEFA website.