Anti-racism network sees positive start to World Cup20 June 2006

With nearly half of the 64 World Cup matches played, the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network has reported a positive start to the tournament.

With few exceptions football fans from all over the world have come together in a peaceful and celebratory atmosphere in the city centres and stadiums. However campaigners have witnessed some xenophobic behaviour by a minority of fans. The majority of fans did not join these xenophobic actions and partly made an active stand against this kind of behaviour.

As part of FARE's work at the World Cup campaigners are filing reports about racist incidences to FIFA, who have intensified their efforts to prevent discriminatory behaviour.

Football Unites programme
For the first time at the World Cup, the Organising Committee is financially backing preventive anti-racism work. The FARE network cooperates closely with the fan embassies (organised by the coordination office of German fan projects) and FIFA. Two mobile football pitches are touring the host cities. Streetkick tournaments where fans and ethnic minorities come together already took place in Berlin, Hamburg, Gelsenkirchen, Stuttgart, Cologne and Leipzig. Events in collaboration with the fan projects in Dortmund and Hanover were also organised. More than 10.000 fanzines with statements against racism of the World Cup team captains have been distributed. Futhermore the FARE network conducts a monitoring at selected matches.

Far-right acts at Italy – Ghana
During the national anthem at the match Italy vs. Ghana in Hanover dozens of supporters in the Italian sector raised their right arm to show the fascist greeting.

The fan ambassador of Ghana, Bella B. Bitugu, reported to FARE that a man in an Italian shirt in the Ghanaian sector has been forced by surrounding supporters to stop the discriminatory gesture. During the match an Italian fan waved with an inflatable banana whenever the Black Stars committed a foul or were in ball possession. On their way to the Hanover stadium FARE observers discovered an „Ultras Italia“ graffiti featuring a big Swastika.

Germany versus Poland
The confrontations before and after Germany vs. Poland in Dortmund had no explicit right-extremist background. Nevertheless, there were far-right fans among those who went on riot. According to a report by Reuters Germany some fans shouted „Sieg Heil“. Also the local newspaper Dortmunder Rundschau quotes a volunteer, who identified several neo-Nazis among the group who attacked Poland supporters before kick-off. The Ruhr Nachrichten have reported about 30 Hooligans who „chanted their far-right polish slogans“. Ahead of the Ecuador and Germany matches FARE spotted Polish supporters in the city centres wearing scarfs featuring Celtic crosses and the scull of the Waffen-SS, which is forbidden to display according to German law.

Xenophobic Merchandising
After the match France vs. Switzerland anti-Turkish t-shirts and scarfs were sold at a stand outside the Stuttgart stadium. A scarf carried the xenophobic expression “Bye bye Turkey – Turkish man stays at home” (“Tschüss Türkei – Türkischer Mann bleibt zu Hause”). The scarf also used a stereotype image of a Muslim: an angry looking old man with a white long beard. Nevertheless, fears that Turkish migrants living in Germany would clash with Swiss fans following the violent events in the qualifying stage did not come true.

„White Power“ symbol in the Serbian sector
In Leipzig when the Netherlands played Serbia-Montenegro a banner with a Celtic cross was displayed by Serbian fans. The Celtic cross is a popular racist symbol in the far right „White Power“ movement. At the EURO 2004 the football association of Croatia was fined by UEFA for the display of two Celtic cross banners in the Croat sector.

With the start of the World Cup FARE established a racism reporting line for fans. Incidences can be reported via the phone number ++49 (0)151 520 78186 or via e-mail footballunites@gmail.com or the web-site www.FAREnet.org.

Contact:
Kurt Wachter, FARE / FairPlay-vidc, Mobil 0049 151 52078176, footballunites@gmail.com
Leon Mann, FARE / Kick It Out, Mobil 0049 151 52078171