European friendlies highlight fight against racism30 March 2015

AheadofFIFAfriendlyencountersandUEFAEuro2016qualifiersthe FootballAssociationsofItaly (FIGC),Austria(ÖFB) andCroatia(HNS)launchedawareness-raisinginitiatives,whichare pointingouttheroleofprofessionalfootballinleadingthefightagainstdiscrimination.

‘Razzisti? Una brutta razza’
FIGC newest anti-racism campaign ‘Razzisti? Una brutta razza’, led by the Olympian and FIGC inclusion and anti-racism delegate Fiona May, is holding a series of educational activities to address discrimination in football across Italy’s 20 regions.

The campaign, launched in February, comprises 20 events, one per region, and engages young players in discussions on topics related to sport, inclusion and anti-discrimination. The initiative has three complementary parts, which include: ‘Parliamone in campo’, which will see coaches raising the topic of discrimination with their young players; ‘Presentiamoci al territorio’, a series of conferences that will present the programme at a local level; and ‘Solo per i ragazzi’, which will engage the youngsters large scale events.

An example of the latter was held last week in Turin when over 500 children of local schools participated in a day-long event, which counted with the support of the Italian sporting stars Mauro Berruto, Italy’s men’s volleyball national team coach, Gianluca Pessotto, former Juventus player, Cristian Molinaro, Torino defender, and Fiona May.

The Italian football’s initiative will use the Italy v England match as the focus of its efforts to change attitudes in stadiums. Events around the friendly encounter will mainly target registered players aged between 10 and 18 and will include a talk show targeted at teenagers and a social media #NOTORACISM campaign featuring Italian and English players and The FA chairman, Greg Dyke.

Croatian football united against discrimination and violence 
In a similar move, on 23 March, the Croatian FA kicked off a social media campaign to challenge all forms of improper behaviour in football, including discrimination and violence.

High profile coaches and players of premier league clubs, such as NK Istra 1961, HNK Rijeka, HNK Hadjuk, GNK Dinamo and RNK Split, among others, feature in a video calling on supporters to contributed to a positive and healthy atmosphere at matches.

Via the hash tag #mojatribina, the campaign invites fans to share pictures and videos that portrait that same atmosphere.

ÖFB raise awareness of racism
The friendly match between Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina on 31 March in Vienna will also raise awareness of racism in football. Before the kick-off, players will display messages against racism and anti-discrimination slogans will be highlighted in different points of the stadiums.

The initiative is being organised by the Fare member FairPlay-VIDC as part of their long-term collaboration with the ÖFB to emphasises football’s contributions to a respectful and inclusive society.

Austria national team captain Christian Fuchs said: “Discriminatory abuse or exclusion do not have a place in football. Not only should this be obvious for all football fans, but also for our society in general.”

Valentin Inzko, Austrian diplomat serving as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, analysed the impact of football in post-war countries and explained: “Football has become a unifying element. Teams are building bridges from ethnic minority to ethnic minority, from sports person to sports person, and above all, from human being to human being. These tasks particularly related to the ones of football in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a bulwark against nationalism, racism and fanaticism.”