UEFA's social responsibility and Respect campaigns – emphasising football's contribution to social cohesion and its zero tolerance for racism and discrimination – have been given a high profile at the UEFA European Women's Championship in Finland. UEFA, the Football Association of Finland (SPL-FBF) and other interested parties have been hard at work in both areas at events during the final round.
Tournaments with great national and international visibility are effective ways of transmitting any message, and UEFA and partners have been present at all the matches in Finland to spread the word about social responsibility campaigns and anti-racism activities with the pitch-side board slogans 'UEFA RESPECT' and 'No To Racism'.
UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ hosts, the SPL-FBF, and host cities Turku and Vantaa have also made their mark. The SPL-FBF and the two cities have staged two international seminars: namely, Football Fights Racism, and Urheiluliike Suomessa 2020 – pois paitsiosta (Sports Movement in Finland 2020 – Out from Offside). The latter in particular focused on the role of women in football.
Both seminars attracted some 130 participants, and presentations were given by, among others, UEFA and the SPL-FBF, the players' body FIFPro, the pan-European Football Against Racism in Europe network, Finnish government ministries, non-governmental sports bodies, clubs, players and coaches.
Football can be a great social movement for change and active social responsibility programmes combined with media coverage can have a lasting effect on society. The SPL-FBF works together with the Finnish broadcasting company YLE, and their co-operation on the Rasisti on Reppana (Racism is a Loser) project has turned into the third-largest national television campaign in Finland. Click here for details.
UEFA took the opportunity at the Football Fights Racism seminar to explain its zero tolerance policy towards racism and its determination to punish such conduct with severe penalties. This season, notably, guidelines have been introduced that allow referees to stop, suspend or even abandon matches if serious racist incidents occur.
UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ has been by far the largest single sporting event in Finland since the 1952 Olympics, attracting the attention of the entire country as well as widespread support and coverage throughout Europe. The social responsibility work undertaken by UEFA, the SPL-FBF and partners has made a positive impact – and the battle to banish such negative phenomena as racism continues to gain ground.
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