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Saturday, October 15, 2005

35 countries sign up to stamp out racism

Big news from the anti-racism in football campaign. Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria have all signed up to the project. Why is this big news? Anyone who has watched the programs about football in war zones will know that the levels of racism, anti-semitism and neo-nazi sympathy in these countries stadia are unnacceptable. So this is indeed a big and positive step.

The latest edition of a Europe-wide campaign to stamp out racism in football has kicked off with 35 countries - including for the first-time Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria - joining the initiative. The 6th Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) Action week, which began on Thursday, will last through 26 October. European football’s governing body, UEFA, has pledged its support by staging a game between its staff, based at UEFA headquarters in Nyon Switzeraland and locally based players from nations such as Senegal, Morrocco, Algeria and Cameroon.

But with UEFA Champions League games involving 32 of Europe's strongest clubs scheduled for 18 and 19 October the anti-racism message is set to be proclaimed at the highest levels. Teams such as Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United will enter the pitch accompanied by children wearing “Unite Against Racism” T-Shirts, while the matchday programme will highlight the campaign. Around 500,000 fans will directly witness events in the stadiums, while many millions more will see it via live TV coverage.

“We are under no illusion that the Week of Action will end racism in football. However, it will help to raise awareness of the issue and can be the catalyst for kick starting anti-racism initiatives at clubs across the continent and at the grassroots level of the game,” UEFA’s Chief Executive, Lars-Christer Olsson, said of Action Week.

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