Over 1000 activities, in 35 different countries including all UEFA Champions League games onboard and unprecedented efforts in Spain, France and Eastern Europe; yet no sign of Action Week at Brøndby IF in Denmark. For this, the most successful FARE Action Week to date, was shamefully banned by the board of the Copenhagen club.
FARE partner, Brøndby Fans Mod Racisme (Brøndby fans against racism), together with the official fan club, Brøndby Support, planned to mark the Action Week by unveiling a huge “We are all blue and yellow – kick out racism” banner at the club’s game against FC Midtjylland. The activities were initially allowed, but the board stepped in at the last minute on 17 October 2005, banning the anti-racist activities.
Morten Bjoernholt from Brøndby Fans Mod Racisme, was puzzled by the decision,
“I don’t know why they are so afraid of their own fans initiatives against racism. They have their own integration of foreigners-programme, which receives funding from the Danish state. If they don’t want to be part of the Action Week that is their own choice. But I can’t see why they should forbid us – the fans – to do something. The only reason I can think of is that they are afraid of the small group of fans who have used racist shouting in the last two or three years. But should this small group decide how Brøndby Copenhagen should act, when it comes to racism in Europe, Denmark and Brøndby Stadium?”
Unlike the Board of Brøndby, UEFA backs the action week fully. UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson, gave his support,
“The week of action presents a great opportunity to take a stand against racism and pay tribute to the diversity of the game. UEFA is wholeheartedly behind the week of action and as a part of our own ‘Unite against racism’ campaign we will be using the our highest profile club competition to underline this. We are under no illusion that the week of action will end racism in football. However, it will help to raise awareness of the issue and can be the catalyst for kick starting anti-racism initiatives at clubs across the continent and at the grassroots level of the game.”
All of UEFA’s Champions League matches during the Action Week featured activities. All the players were accompanied onto the pitch by children wearing “Unite Against Racism” T-shirts, whilst Tannoy announcements and features in the matchday programmes highlighted the campaign. Hundreds of thousands witnessed these events live, whilst millions more viewed via television.
Morten Bjoernholt continued,
“I can’t stop thinking, what would have happened if Brøndby had qualified for the Champions League. Would Brøndby also have declined to take part in UEFA’s stance against racism as the only club? I guess clubs in Europe and UEFA must be wondering what is going on in Danish football.”