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Europe's top coaches and managers have spoken out in strong support of UEFA's Respect campaign, with Juventus boss Claudio Ranieri stressing how "respect means everything" in today's game.
UEFA President Michel Platini launched the initiative earlier this year and it gained wide exposure during UEFA EURO 2008™. UEFA's Respect campaign relates to the fight against social ills such as racism, violence, xenophobia and homophobia, allied to respect for the rules of the game, match officials, one's own club, the opposing club, team-mates, fellow footballers and supporters alike.
"I think respect means everything, because respect also means accepting defeat and being able to appreciate your opponents' football if they played better," Ranieri said. "That's respect for me. Respect your neighbour as you would your own self – that comes first. From that, you have democracy. That's the most important thing – and that's why I fully share this philosophy with UEFA."
'Respect is everything'
Olympique Lyonnais coach Claude Puel concurred. "Respect is everything," he said. "Respect for your opponents, respect for your team-mates, respect for the crowd. In sport and football, which is universal, we must keep a certain innocence. It is one of the few fields where you can talk about real values like this, and we must defend this jealously." Werder Bremen trainer Thomas Schaaf said respect "is one of most important feelings and characteristics you should have, in sport, but respect is immensely important in our daily lives as well. It doesn't matter who I'm facing, this person has earned respect. Respect has to always be present, to ensure no prejudices come up."
Club Atlético de Madrid coach Javier Aguirre believes the initiative could not have come at a better time. "Every Sunday we witness scenes, not only in Europe but in all parts of the world, where there is a lack of respect. Managers towards players, players towards managers, towards the crowd, towards the referees. Every Sunday there are examples that prove this lack of respect. I believe a campaign like this, applied both to football and to society as a whole, is a very good idea."
Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson also considers the sport to be going through a crucial period. "I think this is maybe a watershed for the game," he said. "There's been, over the years, an increase in attempts to manipulate the referee such as players crowding around the referees, and it can't do the referee's confidence any good – you're undermining his authority. The backing-off process and respect of decisions is a step we hope will improve the quality of referees and the game itself." Villarreal CF coach Manuel Pelligrini added that respect is key to ensuring the game maintains its popularity worldwide. "Respect represents the basis for this sport to remain the biggest one in a massive way," he said.
To watch Europe's top coaches discussing the Respect campaign in this week's uefa.com Magazine, click here.
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