Matchday three of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League on 22–24 October will highlight the fight against all forms of discrimination in football stadiums throughout Europe – as UEFA gives its full backing to the continent's biggest anti-discrimination campaign, the FARE Action Weeks.
"UEFA, its member associations and its long-standing partner FARE [Football Against Racism in Europe] share an unflinching desire to tackle all forms of discrimination in our sport and to help stamp out such behaviour across Europe. Driven by that shared determination, we adopted a resolution on this issue in May this year, with a view to sending out a strong message as part of our fight against racism," said UEFA President Michel Platini in support of the campaign.
The No to Racism message will be the focus for the FARE Action Weeks activities, which aim to increase public awareness of intolerance and discrimination in football, as well as developing ideas and strategies on how to combat them. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Johan Cruyff will be among the football heavyweights getting behind the initiative.
Team captains will wear No to Racism armbands, anti-racism messages will be played over clubs' public address systems and a video containing player testimonials backing the campaign will be shown in each stadium. A No to Racism pennant will also be passed between the players in the pre-match lineups. In addition, at the start of every match this season, No to Racism banners are being prominently displayed on the pitch.
The FARE Action Weeks will underscore the anti-racism resolution adopted at the UEFA Congress last May, when UEFA's member national associations pledged to step up their efforts to eliminate racism from football and impose stricter sanctions on racist behaviour. UEFA has also revised its disciplinary regulations to include tougher penalties against racism.
The resolution includes encouraging referees to stop, suspend or even abandon a game if racist incidents occur; the imposition of ten-match suspensions on any player or team official found guilty of racist conduct; and stadium closures if fans engage in racist behaviour. A video showcasing the 11 points that make up the resolution will be broadcast before every game on matchday three. Already this season, UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Body has announced sanctions against clubs whose supporters have participated in racist behaviour.
The executive director of FARE, Piara Powar, said: "We are proud that the Action Weeks are now the largest social message activity in sport, with involvement from small grassroots groups to some of the largest clubs in Europe through the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. The theme of Football People reflects the message of unity and inclusiveness that is critical to us going forward. UEFA's support has been vital in getting our message across to a global football audience."
Events will take place during the FARE Action Weeks in over 40 countries around Europe. The activities include workshops, round-table discussions and mini-football tournaments engaging fans, clubs, national associations, ethnic minority groups and youth organisations. With UEFA's support, grants from FARE have been offered to more than 200 grassroots initiatives.
For more information visit UEFA.org.
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