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Tackling racism in European football

Social Sustainability

UEFA marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by showcasing the power of the beautiful game to unite people.

UEFA via Getty Images

On Thursday 21 March, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) collaborate in a joint webinar series focused on social and environmental sustainability with a dedicated session on the topic.

The webinar highlights UEFA’s strategic approach to sustainability, with a deep dive into UEFA’s anti-racism policy its related targets, tools, resources and guidance.

During the webinar we explore how clubs can contribute to improve football’s environment by establishing and implementing policies to tackle racism and to guarantee that all their programmes and practices are exercised without discrimination of any kind. AFC Ajax and VfL Bochum contribute with their own best practices and challenges in fighting and preventing racism and racial discrimination in European football.

The webinar also provides concrete examples of practices relating to Article 29 of UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Sustainability Regulations. The article stipulates that each licence applicant “must establish and implement a policy to tackle racism and to guarantee that all the licence applicant’s policies, programmes and practices are exercised without discrimination of any kind.”

UEFA’s seven dedicated social sustainability policies, part of the Football Sustainability Strategy 2030, include a focus on the fight against racism, recognising that everyone involved in football should be treated with respect and enjoy equal rights and opportunities.

In practice, it means we create anti-racism initiatives, toolkits and guidance to support national associations, leagues and clubs tackle discrimination across European football. Here are some highlights of these initiatives.


FootbALL Campaign Launch

The launch of FootbALL in June 2023 marks the beginning of an extensive programme that will serve to catalyse close collaboration with all European football stakeholders to foster positive social change, with a simple yet significant message: in football, everyone is welcome.

The programme comprises three pillars: the campaign, the platform, and the activation – which tie together all of UEFA’s social sustainability initiatives, events and campaigns.

The campaign video launch has reached 39.1 million views across UEFA social channels so far. FootbALL will spur new educational actions and amplify existing ones, such as the OUTRAGED educational programme and its dedicated toolkit.


OUTRAGED documentary series: racism

The original OUTRAGED award-winning documentary was first launched in December 2020, with the aim of showcasing the experiences of some of the biggest names in football and sharing their thoughts on the best way to help eradicate issues of discrimination from the sport. Topics addressed include racism, sexism, homophobia, refugee discrimination, online abuse and disability.

Since then, having been seen by millions of viewers after take-up by 112 broadcasters and having received critical acclaim in the form of 20 international awards, UEFA has split the documentary into theme-led videos and produced additional content in the form of further video. Working with its national associations, UEFA has also produced an educational toolkit designed for children, young adults, parents, coaches and team staff.

The toolkit has sections for each of these audiences, with proposed session agendas that can be followed complete with group discussion topics and feedback forms.

UEFA’s online abuse platform: Real Scars

Real Scars - Campaign against online abuse

Launched at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, Real Scars is a campaign and monitoring platform dedicated to combatting online abuse and fighting all forms of discrimination in football by creating awareness, providing education, and monitoring and reporting online abuse.

Running across all UEFA events last season, the platform most notably tracked and reported 3,057 abusive posts, most of them targeting players, and achieved a 48% removal rate.

To learn more about UEFA’s work related to anti-racism, you can also access the UEFA RESPECT Report 2022/23, which presents the actions and engagements across the strategic work on all sustainability topics.

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