Action Week in Poland biggest yet13 November 2006

FARE partner Never Again has helped coordinate a wide-ranging programme of initiatives in support of the FARE Action Week, including:

– In Poznañ, the Social Initiatives Association held a football tournament under the banner “FOOTBALL AGAINST RACISM”. The purpose was to prove that the stadiums of Poznañ, and the city itself, are safe, free of any kind of aggression, violence and hatred, and show that Poznañ is an open, tolerant city, that fully supports all forms of antidiscrimination actions. Initiatives during the week-long event sought to engage immigrants, ethnic minorities and refugees as well as local organizations, like football fan clubs, NGOs or independent culture groups in popularising anti-racism.

– Both sides in the televised Polish Cup match between Zawisza Bydgoszcz and Lechia Gdañsk demonstrated their opposition to racism. Gdansk wore t-shirts with the slogan “No to racism – Lechia Gdansk”, whilst fans from Bydgoszcz players displayed a banner stating ”Let’s kick racism out of the stadiums”.
Similar actions took place during GKS Piast Gliwice – Polonia Warszawa matches. Fan actions were backed up by media briefings.

– The ”A Better World” organization also took part in the FARE Week of Action. Many of Poznañ’s primary and secondary schools participated in a “Football without Racism” contest. Posters informing of this event were distributed across Poznañ as well as in local media. An information meeting on “How to defeat Racism” took place in a local cafe.

– In Lodz, a city with great problems of racism and anti-semitism, a huge conference with 300 participants was held at the local university. In the debate panel Never Again was represented as well as local government representatives, the coach of LKS Lodz and Tomasz Hajto (former captain of the Polish National Team, ex-Schalke 04, now of LKS Lodz). But the main guests of this meeting were students originally from Arabic and African countries, who shared their opinions about the issue of racism in Poland. Same students then played a friendly game with their Polish friends from university at the main football stadium in Lodz. Lots of anti-racist materials were distributed during the event.

– Not only football fans participated. The Polish Unemployed Union in Elk, agreed that the city stadium should be free of aggression, anti-semitism and hooligans. This resulted in a seminar and Roma bands concert. It was a very succesfull project, with a huge response from football club authorities, municipal government, NGOs and school pupils.

The Campaign against Homophobia joined the FARE Action Week and organized a table soccer Rainbow Cup competition in Warsaw. It also included activities against gender discrimination and homophobia, bringing together people belonging to ethnic, sexual and national minorities, to provide opportunities to get to know each other better and stand out together against discrimination and to emphasize their own identity. Participants of the meeting prepared materials about their activities so everyone could find out more about problems connected with the issue.

– Dressed in the colours of the Polish national team and holding footballs, Warsaw’s Migrator Theatre actors launched their FARE Action Week campaign with a gospel concert at the Centre of Culture, the choir including singers from Cameroon, Burundi, Congo, Georgia and Balkan countries. During the week Never Again, in cooperation with Migrator Theatre organised street theatre, with African players from Legia Warsaw taking part. This acted as a promotion of multi-ethnicity through football. This event was shown on main Polish TV stations and in some of the biggest-circulation newspapers.
Also in Warsaw, Africa United played against Legia Warsaw in a friendly game at Legia Stadium. After this event Simon Mol and Jacek Purski of Never Again were asked to contribute in a TV sports programme focussing on the issue of racism in football and the FARE Action Week.
The Warsaw Action Week ended with a big party with multicultural music from Mamadou Diouf, a DJ from Senegal