UEFA's beating social heart, using football's massive popularity and social strength to address a variety of social issues, is reflected in two keynote social responsibility reports which have been issued by European football's governing body. The reports spotlight UEFA's social responsibility work and activities at UEFA EURO 2012 and also the work undertaken in this area during the 2012/13 season.
The EURO report demonstrates UEFA's clear commitment to football and its duty to pursue effective social responsibility work. The comprehensive document covers every aspect that was relevant to the tournament in Poland and Ukraine and that fell under UEFA's control or influence.
"A major tournament such as UEFA EURO 2012 touches on many economic, social and environmental aspects which are related to sustainability," the report explains. "Many of them, such as transport, procurement, workforce training, volunteerism, customer satisfaction, health and safety, and doping, are part of the core business of the organisation of the tournament. (...) It is a credit to those involved in UEFA EURO 2012 that social aspects of sustainability were improved on, relative to UEFA EURO 2008, given the challenging political, economic and social circumstances."
The 140-page report looks at a variety of topics that comes under the UEFA social responsibility remit, and includes spectator access, animal welfare, charity, diversity, energy, fan culture, good governance, health, inclusion, infrastructure, procurement, safety, transport, waste, water and workforce.
UEFA Executive Committee member and chairman of the UEFA Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee, Peter Gilliéron, reflects on the great pride UEFA took in its social responsibility work in Poland and Ukraine. "This report focuses on the economic, social and environmental aspects of UEFA EURO 2012 (...) and covers 20 critical aspects, as identified by our stakeholders. [The report] can serve as a benchmark for the next UEFA European Championship final tournaments – in France in 2016 and in 2020 when the EURO for Europe will take place in 13 different European cities."
The report describes how such a major tournament can be used to drive specific social issues that affect football, and how UEFA's aim was to establish a social responsibility programme which would have an impact both inside and outside the two host countries. It provides background information and details the various policies and objectives concerning this work; relates the results and achievements; and gives figures, including comparisons with previous EURO final rounds.
"Of particular importance," says Peter Gilliéron, "were the four core issues of inclusion, diversity, fan culture and health." A number of achievements are conveyed in these areas – among them, the very few racist incidents reported and the anti-racism campaign highlighted at the semi-finals; improving access and the matchday experience for disabled supporters; the showcasing at the quarter-finals of football played by footballers with different forms of disability, underlining that football is inclusive and for all; the promotion of healthy lifestyles by over 6,000 trainers and volunteers in Poland and Ukraine; stationary and mobile fan embassies to offer advice and guidance to thousands of supporters; the joy of orphans watching their first live football matches; and the €3,000 donated by UEFA to the official tournament charity CAFE (Centre for Access to Football in Europe) for every goal scored at the finals.
The report is the first to be written in accordance with new event organiser guidelines set out by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which establish a worldwide framework for sustainability reporting. "Creating History Together was the slogan for UEFA EURO 2012," says Peter Gilliéron. "This report provides ample evidence that this was no empty statement, but a clear and measurable commitment we are proud to have delivered on."
Meanwhile, the UEFA Football and Social Responsibility Report for 2012/13 stresses the unstinting and dedicated work that UEFA puts in every day to fulfil its social responsibility brief. The report shows how the European body has developed and fine-tuned activities in partnership with a select group of specialist organisations in the fields of diversity and inclusion, the environment, health, peace and reconciliation, and solidarity. "In practical terms," says Peter Gilliéron, "this means making UEFA competitions non-smoking, more accessible for disabled fans and more environmentally friendly, and ensuring that football is used as a force for integration that does not divide ethnic or religious groups."
The report considers all the social responsibility work carried out by UEFA in 2012/13 – ranging from offering under-privileged children the experience of a lifetime at the UEFA Europa League final, to the high-profile anti-racism platform shared with the FARE network at major club competition matches; the support given to the Cross Cultures' Open Fun Football Schools that unite people torn apart in areas of conflict; the fruitful dialogue with supporters' groups – the lifeblood of the game; and the work on nurturing inclusion in football – a game which must be open to everyone regardless of race, age, gender, religion or disability.
Key figures, achievements and targets are underscored in the report, which emphasises UEFA's strategic approach to football and social responsibility. "UEFA has picked its battles, so to speak," says Peter Gilliéron, "selecting key issues that are particularly relevant to European society and football.
"This report represents an important milestone on a long journey," he adds. "I do hope that (...) a strong desire to combine our core business with a positive impact on society shines through."
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