NYON: UEFA with remarkably apposite – or inappriopriate – timing has declared the next days as its “Say no to discrimination” weeks writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Reaction within English football and the Premier League – where many officials and players view as contemptible UEFA’s attitude to racial discrimination – is likely to be less than appreciative.
Only last week England’s black players were subjected, not for the first time, to racist abuse in Serbia, at a UEFA European Under-21 tie. At the weekend Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand was among leading players who refused to wear the Kick It Out campaign’s anti-discrimination T-shirts in their match warm-ups.
A statement issued by the European federation in Nyon has said that all its Champions League and Europa League matches would be dedicated to FARE Action Weeks.
The UEFA statement
The UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League‟s matchday 3 will contribute to the fight against all forms of discrimination in football stadiums throughout the continent as UEFA gives its full support to Europe‟s biggest anti-discrimination campaign – the FARE Action Weeks.
“UEFA is committed to tackling discrimination in football and we encourage football fans to join us in our efforts to value respect for players, officials, opponents and fellow supporters of all nationalities, religious backgrounds, sexual orientation and ethnic origins.
“For over 10 years we have worked alongside the FARE network and will continue to strive towards unity in football”, said UEFA President Michel Platini in support of the campaign.
Forty matches across UEFA‟s prestigious club competitions on 23-25 October 2012 will reinstate UEFA‟s commitment to ensuring that European football is free of racism, intolerance and xenophobia through a series of activities which will be witnessed by thousands of fans in the stadiums and millions more on television.
A 30-second RESPECT TV spot played on the stadiums‟ giant screens and special announcements made on stadium loudspeakers will encourage fans to join the UEFA family in its call to unite against racism in football.
Every team will also be accompanied onto the pitch by children wearing “Unite Against Racism” T-shirts and the captains will be asked to wear a “Unite Against Racism” branded armband.
The executive director of FARE, Piara Powar, said: “The FARE Action Weeks have become one of the largest social message activities in sport, with involvement from the smallest community groups to some of the biggest clubs inEuropethrough the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
The theme of „Football People‟ reflects the message of unity and inclusiveness that sums up our objectives during this period. UEFA‟s support has been vital in getting our message across to a global football audience”. Events will take place during the FARE Action Weeks in over 40 different countries acrossEurope.
The activities include workshops, round table discussions and mini football tournaments involving fans, clubs, national associations, ethnic minority groups and youth organisations. With UEFA‟s support, grants from FARE were offered to over 200 grassroots initiatives. To learn more about FARE Action Weeks activities, please visit www.farenet.org.
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