Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) action weeks have become part of the calendar as the European football family takes a firm stand against racism and discrimination. This year's action week runs from 16 to 28 October.
Across the continent, from the glamour clubs of western and southern Europe, to the old powerhouses of eastern and central Europe, fans, players and clubs will be united in their determination to tackle racism and discrimination. More than 2,000 activities will take place in 38 countries, organised by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), supporters groups, ethnic minorities, youth groups and schools.
In Spain, France and Italy, 'ultra' groups will organise stunning visual routines in stadiums to show their opposition to a problem that remains in the news. In Germany, Austria and England, fan projects and supporter groups will feature in routines and joint activities with ethnic minority groups around stadiums.
Central and eastern Europe
The new European champions, Spain, will be involved through activities coordinated by fans, while as Poland and Ukraine look forward to hosting the next EURO in 2012, NGOs have been putting together a programme in these two east European countries. Other projects in the east will take place in the Balkans, Belarus, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia.
A key focus is to get ethnic minority groups involved. In England and Wales, One Game, One Community is the message that will echo across the country. In addition, a growing number of activities with gay and lesbian groups will highlight messages against homophobia.
Support from FARE
FARE is supporting the projects with donations totalling €50,000. This modest amount is being shared equally across the continent and is prompting many creative ideas. For further details about the FARE action week and a list of activities, see farenet.org. Information is available in English, German, Italian and French.
The FARE network
The FARE network was formed in 1999 by fan groups and NGOs concerned by the rising tide of racism and far-right groups in European football. Today, the network has active partners in almost 40 countries and is working across the game with players, community groups, supporters and governing bodies. By assisting and nurturing small groups and combining the voices of ordinary fans, FARE acts as an umbrella organisation for those challenging racism and discrimination throughout Europe.
FARE and UEFA
UEFA has been working with the network for the last five years, funding anti-racism initiatives at UEFA EURO 2004™ and UEFA EURO 2008™, and backing grassroots activities. With FARE being a principal corporate social responsibility partner of UEFA, the relationship between the two entities demonstrates the resolve of European football's governing body to do all it can to tackle discrimination and to celebrate the diversity of football.
(This article will appear in all 16 match programmes on UEFA Champions League Matchday 3)
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