FairPlay celebrates 15 years of fighting discrimination in football27 February 2012

In celebration of Austrian based campaign FairPlay’s 15th anniversary, the Austrian FA ÖFB is devoting the friendly against Finland in Klagenfurt to the fight against discrimination on 29 February 2012.

The Austrian national team begins the year 2012 with a FairPlay-presentation highlighting the 15th years of campaigning against discrimination in Austria. During the team line up children will present a banner in front of the teams with the message “15 Jahre FairPlay. Viele Farben. Ein Spiel” (“15 years FairPlay. Different Colours – One Game”). On behalf of the team Marc Janko, the captain of the Austrian national team, will make a clear stand and address an anti-racism message via the vidiwall to the fans in the stadium. Furthermore both team captains will wear a “Unite Against Racism” armband, that is used already regularly by the Austrian team captains at international matches.

Football as a means for integration
ÖFB national team coach Marcel Koller Endorses the need for successful integration in football: “For me personally it is very important that the ÖFB is arranging a FairPlay-presentation against discrimination in football. It is important for Austria to resort to the potential of players whose parents or even they themselves are not born here but are already integrated and who perceive themselves as Austrian citizens. Football is a strong instrument for integration, but only if you show also respect for others.”

Increasing awareness
Markus Pinter, project coordinator of the initiative “FairPlay. Different Colours – One Game” emphasises the role model football: “In 1997 when FairPlay was founded, the opinion was mainly that there is no racism in Austrian football and respectively an anti-racism campaign would contribute to a negative image. Because of our work, our projects and campaigns we could contribute to an increased awareness. This would not have been possible in that extent without the support of and the cooperation with the football community like the ÖFB, the regional associations, the UEFA, the Bundesliga, the Ministry of sports, all the clubs in the professional sector as well as the ones at the amateur level and of course the players and fan initiatives.

Petri Pasanen, Finnish international from FC Salzburg added: “Whilst playing at my former club Werder Bremen that is very committed against discrimination, I participated in anti-racism activities. Also my current club FC Salzburg joined the European wide FARE Action Weeks against racism in football. It is important for me personally that the Finnish national team stands united with the Austrian team behind this FairPlay-presentation and makes a stand against discrimination in football.”

FairPlay. Different Colours – One Game. was founded in 1997 in Vienna. From the start the ÖFB and its regional associations officially supported the campaign. The ÖFB and FairPlay, which is part of the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC), are cooperating closely since the season 2006-07 in annual work programmes. Since the first “FairPlay match” against Trinidad & Tobago in 2006 there is an anti-racism presentation with one of the ÖFB national teams every year. In 2012 the ÖFB and FairPlay developed and published a reporting procedure on incidences of discrimination in football.