European football took the opportunity this week to say no to racism, intolerance and discrimination as part of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network's Action Weeks. UEFA's club competition matches provided a high-profile platform on which to emphasise that these negative phenomena have no place in the game.
Matches in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and Wednesday, and in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, were the occasion for UEFA to support the 2011 FARE Action Weeks as well as to highlight its own Unite Against Racism initiative and promote a zero tolerance policy towards racists.
The anti-racism campaign is being given maximum exposure during this year's FARE Action Weeks which run between 12 and 25 October and feature events involving fans, players, clubs, community groups, football associations, local authorities and sports media.
At all 16 UEFA Champions League games on matchday three, a 30-second "No to Racism" giant-screen advert was shown and tannoy announcements were made before kick-off. All 32 teams involved walked onto the pitch accompanied by children wearing Unite Against Racism T-shirts, while team captains were asked to wear Unite Against Racism armbands.
Given the massive global reach of the UEFA Champions League in particular, the anti-racist message was seen by thousands of spectators at the matches and by millions more watching on television. FARE – UEFA's partner for the last ten years in the concerted drive to banish racism from football fields and stadiums – are grateful for the widespread backing given to the Action Weeks.
"We are delighted with the response to this year's FARE Action Weeks," said FARE executive director Piara Powar, thanking UEFA upon the completion of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matchday three programme. "The level of activity has outstripped that of previous years with community and supporter groups, clubs and national associations contributing to the symbolic stand against discrimination and celebration of the diversity of the game.
"The [Action Weeks'] Football People theme reflects where we are in setting out a message of inclusivity that all our stakeholders can relate to. We will be developing this theme over the coming months – it is sure to become a core part of our mainstream messaging."
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