European football united to to boost public awareness of the problems of racism and exclusion in the game, as the latest Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) Action Week came to a successful conclusion.
Initiatives and actions
The concept behind the Action Week run by UEFA's partner in the fight against racism is that a wide range of initiatives and activities address local problems within their club or community, while also joining groups across the continent to present a unified stand against racism in the game.
UEFA Champions League platform
The Action Week saw events take place in 37 countries in and around football grounds all over Europe, with the top stars lending support to the campaign. All 32 UEFA Champions League teams participated in the Unite Against Racism campaign, reaching more than 600,000 fans directly at the matches and millions more via live broadcasts on television. A television spot is being broadcast to 140 million viewers worldwide at half-time at each match this season – click here for more details. The number of participating professional leagues this year increased to 14, and the symbolic activities organised by national football associations and individual clubs reached out to more people than ever before.
Each year, the FARE network offers support for a range of grassroots activities to address local problems in football clubs at the community level. Groups received a variety of resources, including posters, FARE flags, FARE t-shirts, Unite Against Racism captain's armbands, anti-racism wristbands, FARE banners, FARE TV spot DVDs, red cards and warm-up bibs.
Hundreds of groups including fan clubs, ethnic minority organisations, football clubs and a variety of NGOs submitted creative proposals. Some of the highlights of the 2008 Action Week in Russia included the work of Maccabi Moscow, a Jewish community football club, who organised two multi-ethnic football events and a St Petersburg-based organisation working mostly with homeless people called Put Domoi, who hosted a "Football Against Racism" tournament for homeless and refugee teams at the Metrostoy Stadium.
Meanwhile, in Scandinavia, there was strong involvement of the players and professional clubs. The Norwegian 'Gi rasisme rødt kort' campaign co-ordinates anti-racist events in the Tippeligaen, second tier and the women's top flight. In neighbouring Sweden, the players union also organised a 'Ge rasismen rött kort' message. Flyers were distributed to an estimated 135,000 spectators and, when the teams lined up, a short DVD was shown.
In Denmark, the players' union staged an anti-racism event at the Randers FC-Aalborg BK game. Players showed the red card and an anti-racist penalty competition took place during half-time. The previous weekend, the Football Association of Finland and the national league were also involved in the FARE Action Week. Scotland's 'Show Racism the Red card' campaign pressed home the message of celebrating diversity and tackling racism. Swiss top-flight club BSC Young Boys wore specially-designed shirts with a motto denouncing violence and racism for their home match with FC Zürich.
The world of international football also pledged its support. The Austrian Football Association held anti-racist activities at the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Serbia, with similar events taking place at the encounter between the Republic of Ireland and Cyprus. Click here for the FARE website.
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