With the countdown continuing towards UEFA EURO 2012, UEFA's partner in the campaign against racism, the FARE network, is making final preparations in conjunction with European football's governing body for its activities at the tournament.
FARE has been working with UEFA on the 'Respect Diversity – Football Unites' programme that will include monitoring at matches, anti-discrimination messages at every game, a joint protocol on the reporting of incidents, a commitment to take disciplinary sanctions, and a campaign focus at the semi-finals that will include diversity messages from team captains.
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).
UEFA is also promoting the idea of Respect at UEFA EURO 2012 through a jersey-exchanging initiative featuring several football personalities as campaign ambassadors. 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.
The FARE activities in Poland and Ukraine are the culmination of a three-year programme to develop a hub in the region with a focus on education and engagement. A key element of the FARE activities at UEFA EURO 2012 includes 30 international monitors at least two at each of the 31 games.
"Through our monitoring programme at UEFA EURO 2012, we will have a number of monitors at each game working with fan representatives and stadium authorities to deal with issues early," FARE executive director Piara Powar told UEFA.com recently. "If this early intervention process does not succeed, we will be making reports to UEFA to be dealt with through their disciplinary processes. This is all part of the UEFA Respect Diversity campaign – which we hope will have a significant impact on the tournament."
The monitors will make use of their experience of fan culture and conduct to note racist chanting, displays of far-right banners/signs and other examples of overt discriminatory actions. They will also observe fan networks in an effort to ascertain whether an incident is likely to take place at a particular game or has been planned for a game. The UEFA EURO 2012 monitoring is part of a concerted effort by UEFA, FARE and its partners to deliver the message that racism has no place in football.
Other elements include a reporting hotline for fans to report racist and discriminatory incidents; up to 300 public areas self-declared as Inclusivity Zones to provide welcoming spaces across Poland and Ukraine; a fanzine in four languages, and a tour of Streetkick, the mobile football game to engage fans and locals with an anti- discrimination message.
Respect Diversity will be the theme at the semi-finals, which will feature a strong message to celebrate diversity. There is also a group of ambassadors for the Respect Diversity – Football Unites campaign, including Dutch legend Clarence Seedorf and former Italian referee Pierluigi Collina.
"This is the first major football event to be held in Eastern Europe in the modern era and it is one that we have been anticipating for a long time," said Rafal Pankowski from the Warsaw-based Never Again Association and co-ordinator of the FARE programme for UEFA EURO 2012. "Our biggest achievement has been to start a dialogue and to raise difficult issues, a process that will contribute to the social development of both our countries. We have a close working relationship with UEFA and are proud to be implementing partners of the Respect Diversity – Football Unites campaign."
Full details of the FARE programme is available on the newly launched http://www.FootballUnites.net website.
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.