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UEFA's zero tolerance for racism

Anti racism

UEFA is entering a new UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup season determined to step up its fight to eliminate the evil of racism and intolerance from football.

UEFA President Michel Platini
UEFA President Michel Platini ©Sportsfile

UEFA is entering a new UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup season determined to step up its fight to eliminate the evil of racism and intolerance from football.

Zero tolerance
The message from European football's governing body is clear – there will be zero tolerance of any racism or discrimination, on or off the field, at UEFA matches during the 2008/09 campaign. Furthermore, UEFA's match delegates and officials are being urged to play a full role in catching the perpetrators. For a number of years now, UEFA has been working closely with its partner organisation, the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network – which involves groups and bodies working in various countries throughout the continent – in a tireless campaign to highlight the need to rid football of racism and its associated elements.

UEFA support
UEFA has given considerable financial support to FARE in recent years, and both bodies have co-operated in staging events, issuing publications, and using the massive public and commercial platform of Europe's biggest football matches to press home the message that racism must not be allowed to flourish.

Action Week and TV spot
During the FARE Action Week every October, the UEFA Champions League matches provide an excellent platform to highlight the work being undertaken, and to voice the anti-racist message. A TV spot launched last week will be broadcast to 140 million viewers worldwide at half-time at each match: click here. This summer, the UEFA EURO 2008™ tournament served to highlight the anti-racist movement, with the Unite Against Racism campaign and various activities including street football tournaments, an awareness scheme and the inclusion of local ethnic minorities. Two matchdays during the final tournament were devoted to this theme, and UEFA contributed €312,500 to the project.

Clear instructions to delegates
UEFA gives its representatives at each match, the match delegate, clear instructions on dealing with potentially racist behaviour. They are asked to check disciplinary documents to see if one of the clubs has a history of racist conduct, and to take a print-out of racist symbols – stored in the UEFA Match Officials Extranet service run by the UEFA adminstration at its headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland – to the match, to help them spot racist activities or banners.

Delegate duties
The delegates should also make use of the matchday organisational meeting to mention the UEFA zero-tolerance policy and request that stewards should search for offensive banners and messages. Before and during the match, delegates are requested to be attentive to any racist behaviour or banners, and request that any banners are removed. They may also take photos of racist conduct or placards, and mention any incidents in the delegates' reports provided to UEFA.

President's policy
UEFA President Michel Platini has made the fight against racism one of the cornerstones of his policies, and he has called on match delegates to do all within their power to help the European body and FARE to fight racism effectively. "It is vital that your post-match reports ... demonstrate no leniency whatsoever in the face of violent, racist or discriminatory behaviour on the part of players, club officials, technical staff or fans," said Mr Platini in a recent letter to UEFA match officials, which also included useful information compiled by the FARE network to help identify groups, conduct and slogans that cannot be tolerated in football stadiums.

Firm action
The UEFA President emphasises that any incident on or off the pitch can have repercussions beyond national borders and seriously damage football's image, setting a negative example to society. Delegates at matches will have his full support if they act firmly in the face of racism. "UEFA policy is clear: zero tolerance of violence, racism or discrimination," Mr Platini told the UEFA officials. "You are the instruments and implementers of this policy and I urge you to be as firm as possible. The image of football lies, to a great extent, in your hands."

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