Swapping shirts at the end of a match is a symbol of respect between opponents. At this summer's UEFA EURO 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine, UEFA is promoting the idea of Respect through a jersey-exchanging initiative which includes a television spot featuring a group of prominent European football personalities who are ambassadors for the campaign.
By linking Respect with swapping shirts, European football's governing body hopes to make a connection with players and fans alike, encouraging everyone to exchange jerseys as a sign of respect for diversity.
Through the launch of an integrated Respect campaign including this trading of football tops, UEFA also intends to set a friendly tone for UEFA EURO 2012, to stimulate behaviour change among some fans and create a legacy for the host countries, as well as for future UEFA tournaments.
Respect is UEFA's social responsibility programme, launched in 2008, which aims to support local communities, tackle social issues and work towards unity across gender, race, religion and ability. The Respect project at UEFA EURO 2012 between 8 June and 1 July highlights UEFA's commitment to combat racism (Respect Diversity), increase access for fans with disabilities (Respect Inclusion), promote health through physical activity (Respect Your Health) and foster intercultural dialogue between fans and the host cities (Respect Fan Culture).
An integrated campaign will target players, officials, fans and large TV audiences throughout the tournament. The 30-second TV spot will be broadcast across Europe at half-time during matches, as well as in the fan zones and on big screens at the stadiums.
The TV spot introduces the shirt-swapping gesture with the participation of six UEFA Respect ambassadors: footballers past and present Karim Benzema, Clarence Seedorf, Peter Schmeichel and Steffi Jones, referee Pierluigi Collina and coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. Each of the 16 UEFA EURO 2012 teams will be represented through their national jersey.
The exchange ritual is believed to date back to 1931, when France beat England for the first time. The French players were so happy to have won they asked their opponents if they could have their tops as keepsakes; the English obliged. Today, swapping shirts is common practice and through this simple act, players show sportsmanship and an acceptance of their opponents.
The initiative will also reach out to supporters online through a dedicated website created in nine languages. Users will be able to join and create jersey exchange chains online, invite their friends and win big prizes. A 2012 print posters campaign is being launched in all eight host cities displaying Respect ambassadors swapping shirts.
These will also be prominent in official programmes and tournament guides. Jersey exchanges will be incorporated into the pre-match ceremonies at all UEFA EURO 2012 fixtures. Moreover, the quarter-finals will be dedicated to Respect Inclusion and the pre-match ceremony before each semi-final to Respect Diversity.
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