Raising awareness of racism and discrimination, and proposing positive and practical solutions for addressing these problems in the game and in society, are the main objectives of the forthcoming Unite Against Racism conference in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The event is being staged by UEFA, the players' union FIFPro and the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, UEFA's long-standing partner in the campaign to banish intolerance and discrimination from football. The Polish Football Association is hosting the conference, to which 250 delegates have been invited from associations, leagues, clubs, players, non-governmental organisations, the media and the world of politics.
Two previous conferences have been held to highlight the issue, in London in 2003 and in Barcelona in 2006. Now, the Hilton Hotel & Convention Centre in Warsaw will be the venue for an in-depth exchange of views on how racism can be eradicated both on and off the field. The gathering will also share examples of good practice in clubs, NGOs and supporters' groups, and act as a platform to share experiences and new ideas.
Important social priority
"Tackling racism and discrimination is an important social priority for UEFA and a range of initiatives have already been undertaken to identify problems, encourage action and ensure the right sanctions are imposed," says UEFA. "Football Against Racism in Europe, UEFA's partner in this area, has developed the involvement of NGOs and fan groups across Europe, and many national football associations, clubs and players have taken up the challenge. UEFA now wants to create an opportunity to review progress and renew its call for action. In particular, UEFA wants to record positive developments and in view of UEFA EURO 2012™, look at the challenges facing the game in the east and what more the European football family can do."
UEFA operates a zero tolerance policy against racism (click here for more information) and takes disciplinary measures against offenders. Together with the European Commission and the FARE network, it launched an anti-racism television spot at the start of this season to spearhead the ongoing campaign (click here for the spot). Last summer the UEFA EURO 2008™ championship also served to highlight the anti-racism movement, via the Unite Against Racism campaign and various activities including street football tournaments, an awareness scheme and the inclusion of local ethnic minorities.
UEFA, FIFPro and FARE have been partners for several years. The FARE movement brings together equality groups from across the continent, supporting them and helping create a united front against racism. UEFA, in addition to providing significant financial assistance, uses its leading competitions to give a platform to anti-racism activities and to promote respect for diversity.
"The conference is a three-way partnership between UEFA, FARE and FIFPro and signals a renewed determination to tackle issues that remain a feature of European football," said FARE ahead of the conference.
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