In the May 2009 issue of UEFA•direct, we presented the 11 values that UEFA undertakes to abide by and promote. I would like to single out one in particular in this editorial, and that is Respect.
Although it is easy to profess respect for opponents, referees, the crowd and the game in the calm light of day, it is often a different matter in the heat of the action, when emotions can become extremely explosive and this courtesy often flies into oblivion.
This is especially evident at the end of a football season, when national and supranational competitions reach their climax. The pressure brought to bear to get the right result, to balance the books and to please the fans exposes invisible flaws, and when anger erupts, some participants at times stoop to performances that let themselves and the rest of us down.
It is precisely at such times that we expect to see strength of character, a virtue that makes great players and great clubs that do not drown in a flood of emotion but steer through it with calmness and dignity. The approaching summer break is, I think, a good time to reflect on these aspects of our game, so that it retains its companionable, universal side.
UEFA can promote respect on and off the pitch. It can also set an example. But for it to really gain momentum, the message has to be carried by the whole football family. The word respect should not just be printed on players' shirts; it should be etched permanently at the front of our minds.
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