The Football Association of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FFM) has reinforced its zero-tolerance policy towards violence and any kind of discrimination in the game by launching a new campaign called '100% Football'.
The campaign is designed to have an impact in educating fans against these negative phenomena and promotes diversity and respect, mirroring values that UEFA holds dear. "Through this campaign we're sending a clear message: zero tolerance against any form of violence and discrimination at football stadiums in our country," said FFM president Ilcho Gjorgjioski during the launch of the campaign in Skopje. "Football should unite people, promote different cultures and call for mutual respect."
The Macedonian First League has resumed after its three-month winter break, and Gjorgioski emphasised that the launch date of the campaign was no coincidence. "I hope that our message will reach out to everyone, and that the clubs and the fans, as well as every admirer of this game, will join us in this initiative," he said. "What we want to see at every football stadium is respectful cheering from the stands, as well as no violence."
For the purposes of the campaign, the FFM has already staged several seminars, one of which was dedicated to the fight against match-fixing. UEFA representatives were present to explain the European body's efforts to eliminate corruption from the game.
The association is working together with educational institutions, the ministries of the interior and education in FYROM, and the national agency for youth and sports. Promotional work includes a video and radio spot, public TV debates featuring fan groups, clubs and the interior ministry, and printed material. A week of activities against discrimination and violence in sport will be organised annually, featuring football tournaments for fans, officials and representatives of other associated sectors, such as journalists and police.
Macedonian footballers from different ethnic backgrounds have taken part in the promotion of this long-term campaign. Their common call is for such phenomena to be eliminated from the game. "As a professional, my main concern is what I do on the pitch, but the feeling of respect for what I am giving for the club, and especially for the national side, is the biggest motivating factor for even better results," said FYROM midfielder Agim Ibraimi, a campaign promoter. "The main goal for fans that come to the games should be to have fun, celebrate our achievements, and give us their support."
Ibraimi's FYROM team-mate Ivan Tričkovski also made a key point: "All of us in the national squad are like one big family, no matter what our background is. I would really like to see the fans respecting us, and also showing each other the same respect that we, the players, give one another."
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