Equal Game Conference on anti-discrimination fight

Wembley Stadium in London will be the setting on 2 and 3 April for a keynote conference, organised jointly by UEFA, the English Football Association (FA) and the Fare network, which will focus on the campaign to rid football of racism and discrimination.

The Equal Game conference will bring together UEFA and its member associations with key stakeholders in the campaign
The Equal Game conference will bring together UEFA and its member associations with key stakeholders in the campaign ©UEFA

A bright spotlight will shine on the fight against discrimination in football when the 2019 Equal Game Conference takes place at Wembley Stadium in London next month

The conference, hosted by the English Football Association and scheduled for Tuesday 2 and Wednesday 3 April, will reflect on efforts to tackle all aspects of racism and discrimination in football. It will bring together 260 delegates from UEFA member associations, leagues, clubs, political and governmental organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and minority groups, as well as relevant experts and media representatives.

London's iconic Wembley Stadium will play host to the conference
London's iconic Wembley Stadium will play host to the conference©Getty Images

This is the latest in a series of anti-discrimination conferences this century, following the inaugural London event in 2002, and subsequent gatherings in Barcelona (2006), Warsaw (2009) and Rome (2014). Organised jointly by UEFA, the English FA and the Fare network, it takes its name from UEFA’s Equal Game campaign which is aimed at promoting inclusion, diversity and access.

Looking ahead to the conference, the UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin, reiterated UEFA’s commitment when he said: “We are one of the few governing bodies and sports rights holders who will put our values on the line in areas such as refugee integration, working with ethnic minorities, promoting LGBT+ rights, the rights of the young men and women, as well as the elderly.

“The Equal Game campaign is front and centre of our media broadcasts, the stories we tell through it are important to us and are elevated to millions. The stories are compelling, and we believe give leadership and set the right tone for European football.

“We see all forms of discrimination as equally harmful, wherever they occur – in stadiums, in the minds of decision-makers, or the impact on people excluded from our sport because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or social background.”

The greater involvement of women in football has been a central feature of UEFA’s Equal Game initiative, and Mr Čeferin added: “We are concerned about the number of women within the European football family. The last available data tells us that less than 5% of senior executives in football are women.”

FA chairman, Greg Clarke, said: “Tackling discrimination and intolerance in our game is a unified effort. We are delighted to welcome our partners at UEFA and Fare to Wembley Stadium for the Equal Game Conference. We will come together to discuss the important role we can all play to ensure our game is equal and for all.“

The opening afternoon of the conference on Tuesday 2 April will include a ‘Women in football leadership’ panel discussion which will include contributions from the female general secretaries of the Icelandic and Estonian Football Associations, Klara Bjartmarz and Anne Rei.

The opening-day agenda will also include talks on Football and disability, Football and human rights, and LGBT+ rights in football.

Day 2 of the conference on Wednesday 3 April will include the Equal Game Café workshop – an opportunity for delegates to share their thoughts, and hear other views, on different topics relating to discrimination, diversity and inclusion.

The conference will close with a concluding panel session titled ‘Voices from the pitch’ featuring Belgium men’s national team coach Roberto Martínez, CONCACAF development director Jason Roberts and former England footballer and now coach Rachel Yankey along with Bibiana Steinhaus, the first women referee to officiate in the German Bundesliga.

Wembley Stadium is one of 12 venues across Europe hosting UEFA EURO 2020 next summer. The stadium will host a total of seven games, including the two semi-finals and the final on 12 July 2020.