UEFA is involved in the organisation of a seminar in Amsterdam this week which will be examining the issue of institutional discrimination.
The seminar on Tuesday and Wednesday is being co-hosted by European football's governing body; the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB); the English Football Association (FA); and the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, UEFA's long-standing partner in the campaign to eliminate racism, intolerance and discrimination from the game.
The gathering in Amsterdam is a first in the specific area of institutional discrimination. UEFA and its partners are determined to identify, raise awareness of, and approach this issue, with experts and interested parties being brought together to look at possible solutions.
Exclusion will be one item on the agenda, and delegates will be debating, for example, how to bring about greater involvement of ethnic minorities and women representatives within football, especially at management level.
Another issue to be addressed is that while black footballers are an integral part of the game, few black coaches or managers are involved. The Amsterdam seminar is seen as a crucial first step in moving football forward on these key issues and acting as a spur for action that will provide results in the long term.
"UEFA has been for many years at the forefront of the fight against racism and discrimination in sport," said William Gaillard, adviser to the UEFA president. "Both in the stands and on the pitch, great progress has been accomplished over the years. This is still no time for complacency, however, because this scourge has not been completely rooted out of our game.
"At the same time, this significant progress allows us to begin to tackle other less dramatic but equally crucial issues such as the representation of ethnic minorities and women at all levels of the game," he added. "In doing so we are merely echoing what is happening in Europe at the level of both politics and civil society – football should not fall behind other sectors of European society."
"Institutional discrimination is often the elephant in the room when talking about issues of equality in sport," said Piara Powar, FARE's executive director.
"In football it can be seen through the lack of ethnic minorities as top-level coaches or managers at national or international levels or as administrators at any level. Similarly the absence of women as high-level administrators and leaders in the game is inexplicable.
"This is the first time a football governing body has taken the step of looking at the issue of structural discrimination through an event of this kind and as such it represents a bold and innovative move by UEFA."
A comprehensive research review has been commissioned from Loughborough University (England) for the seminar and will be presented on Wednesday. The review makes the case for action in this area.
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