UEFA's long-standing social responsibility partner, the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, has been applauded for its work in strengthening the social impact of the game.
UEFA's senior corporate social responsibility manager, Patrick Gasser, praised FARE's efforts as he addressed a media reception during the Football for Equality conference in Vienna – a two-day FARE event marking the network's tenth anniversary. Gasser said that the ongoing partnerships that link the European football family with specialised organisations such as FARE "help to sustain grassroots activities that ensure the benefits of the game reach everyone – especially underprivileged and marginalised groups – and that football remains an effective tool for helping tackle social problems in European society."
Platform for FARE
UEFA has been a long-term supporter of FARE, which was formed in the Austrian capital in 1999, by providing both financial assistance and a high-profile platform on which the network has been able to transmit its anti-racism message. For instance, UEFA Champions League matches give high visibility to FARE's Action Week held each autumn. "Using football's valuable visibility for more than just commercial purposes, UEFA integrates social activities into UEFA's flagship tournaments, illustrating football's potential to make a social impact and enable children, the disabled, minorities, the marginalised and others to become an integrated, accepted part of not only football but society," added Gasser of this invaluable collaboration.
The UEFA official also explained how the European governing body's award-winning Respect campaign was not only consolidating but greatly boosting its social responsibility mission. "Respect aims to promote social responsibility, based not only on respect for opponents, match officials, rival supporters, national anthems, but on wider issues of concern for European society. Europe is a continent with rich cultural and social textures of all kinds. So it is important to celebrate and, above all, respect the differences and diversities which enrich our continent.
Sporting and social combined
"The Respect campaign dovetails with UEFA's portfolio of football and social programmes – aimed at combating violence, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, any form of discrimination – as well as with fan support, intercultural dialogue, access to football games for all abilities, humanitarian relief, health issues and the environment.
"European football has evolved to be present at many levels of society, enabling our sport to use its enormous popularity to help combat social ills, promote civic commitments and defend major humanitarian causes. The Respect campaign allows us to bring together all the elements to strengthen their impact. It is a concept which epitomises all our social responsibility work. Football is about much more than gain and glory."
Respect was launched ahead of UEFA EURO 2008™ and was promptly awarded the International Committee for Fair Play's 'Willi Daume World Fair Play Trophy' for its significant contribution to promoting respect and fair play at the tournament in Austria and Switzerland.
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