Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) President Issa Hayatou believes today's uniteagainstracism conference at FC Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium is of "crucial importance" towards fighting discrimination in Europe and the rest of the world.
"It is a step in the right direction and of crucial importance," Hayatou told uefa.com. "It will help increase awareness amongst political and sporting authorities throughout the world about the negative character of racism. From there, a lot can change. We have to fight racism. As president of CAF and as someone with black skin I am against this type of behaviour. As a consequence, it's a very important conference in that it will draw the attention of the international community to this phenomenon that we absolutely must fight. All men on earth are equal and they have the possibility to do things in the same way."
Camp Nou conference
Barcelona are hosting the conference, which has been organised by UEFA in co-operation with the club, the Football Against Racism in Europe network and the Spanish Football Federation. It will help highlight the work that those within football are doing to rid the game of racism, and also how important a role football can play in leading the fight against discrimination throughout society. "We find racism a little bit everywhere in society," Hayatou said. "
Football is the sport with the biggest number of fans. Football is the motor – it must drive the whole world."
'No to racism'
CAF also plays an important role in fighting racism, and is working closely with both UEFA and FIFA to get its message across on a global stage. "At CAF, we have been working on this problem for the last three years,” Hayatou said. "Each time we organise a competition, for example the FIFA Under-20 or Under-17 World Championship we display advertising hoardings with the message 'No to racism'. Even the ball boys wear 'No to racism' t-shirts. We are working together with the presidents of UEFA [Lennart Johansson] and FIFA [Joseph S. Blatter] to ensure that this phenomenon is fought with real vigour throughout international football."
The Meridien Project is one example of where UEFA and CAF are working together to forge greater links between the two continents. The Meridian Project promotes the exchange of cultures between Europe and Africa, with UEFA helping African national associations develop coaching, administrative and refereeing skills. "It's a project that has proved its worth," Hayatou said. "It's an important project, even more so because UEFA is a privileged partner with CAF. It is a reliable and serious project and should be encouraged."
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.