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UEFA has been praised for its leadership role in the campaign to rid football of racism and intolerance.
Match week focal point
Europe's football competitions have been at the forefront of anti-racism activities. UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches have provided the focal point for activities to transmit the anti-racism message, as part of the FARE Action Week put together by UEFA's partner, the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network.
All 16 games on UEFA Champions League Matchday 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday and, for the first time, the 24 fixtures in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, served as high-profile platforms to underline football's commitment to ensuring that intolerance and discrimination have no place in the game.
"The UEFA contribution to the FARE weeks of action, through the activities at the [UEFA] Champions League and [UEFA] Europa League games over the past week, has given a real boost to the many activities being organised by national bodies and grassroots campaigners, fans and NGOs," said Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out, a UK FARE partner.
Reach and engage directly
"In football we have the vehicle to reach out and engage directly with all sections of the population, in whichever part of the continent they reside, whatever their background. Highly visible messages such as those seen through the weeks of action are essential to ensure the anti- discrimination message is heard effectively.
UEFA role welcomed
"I welcome the role that UEFA is playing in giving football leadership on this issue through the many initiatives that they are involved with, directly and indirectly," he added.
United against Racism
Announcements were made over PA systems at matches, giant screens featured the Unite Against Racism logo and a 30-second 'No to Racism' clip was shown. FARE Action Week posters were supplied for distribution at all clubs and one page of the match programme featured a RESPECT advert. On the field, the 22 children escorted on to the pitch by the players and the three referee escorts wore Unite Against Racism T-shirts, while the match-ball carrier at each game wore a RESPECT T-shirt. Team captains wore blue and yellow Unite Against Racism-branded armbands.
UEFA operates a zero tolerance policy towards racism and intolerance, is committed to driving these out of the game, and is completely committed to fighting any type of discriminatory behaviour at European matches. In addition, the UEFA RESPECT campaign promotes the view that there must be respect for difference and diversity – in concrete terms, this means strengthening the fight against social ills such as racism, violence, xenophobia and homophobia.
FARE Action Week
The tenth FARE Action Week runs until 27 October and features some 1,000 initiatives by campaigners, fans, clubs, national associations and ethnic minority and youth groups across Europe. Launched in the 2001/2002 season with initiatives in nine countries, the tenth anniversary edition of the annual FARE Action Week will involve 40 countries.
Click for more details about FARE and the Action Week.
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