The fight against racism in football is gathering pace – with UEFA at the forefront of the pan-European movement campaigning against the phenomenon.
This week's matches in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League provide the perfect platform to show UEFA's determination to stamp out such conduct on and off the field.
The anti-racism campaign is being given high-profile coverage on the European football stages from Tuesday until Thursday, as part of activities marking the Action Week organised by UEFA's partner, the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network.
The Action Week sees NGOs, fan and youth groups, ethnic minorities and schools participate in over 2,000 events across 42 countries – from the smallest amateur and community clubs to Europe's major teams. UEFA's contribution is spread around 40 European matches featuring the continent's top sides and many of the world's best players.
As part of the UEFA Unite Against Racism campaign, teams will be accompanied onto the pitch by children wearing Unite Against Racism T-shirts. Team captains are also being asked to wear Unite Against Racism armbands. A 30-second 'No to Racism' giant-screen spot will be shown, and tannoy announcements will be made before each game.
Ahead of the matches, UEFA president Michel Platini underlined the commitment of European football's governing body in fighting the evil of racism. "Respect for diversity is one of UEFA's key principles," he said. "There is no place for any form of racism or discrimination at UEFA or in European football. UEFA is firmly determined to combat this scourge in any form.
"On Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, we are again contributing to the annual Football Against Racism in Europe network's Action Week. I call on everyone to conduct themselves both on and off the pitch in a spirit of fair play and respect towards referees, opponents and fans. We are all equal with a ball at our feet."
FARE was formed in 1999 by a small collective of fan groups and NGOs concerned by the increasing presence of racism in European football. More than ten years on, this umbrella organisation for groups challenging discrimination on all fronts boasts partners in almost 40 countries in every corner of Europe.
The work of engaging with players, supporters and governing bodies to make football a discrimination-free zone is spreading apace throughout the continent. UEFA has given considerable financial backing to FARE since a formal accord was signed in 2001. Both bodies cooperate in staging events, issuing publications, and using the massive public and commercial platform of Europe's biggest matches to press home a message of zero tolerance for any form of racism or discrimination on and off the field.
Click here for information on the FARE activities: http://www.farenet.org/.
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