Many combine sport, culture and activism in the same space, sharing common goals of countering exclusion through sport and cultural exchanges.
To Fabio Dolci, of Istoreco, one of the organisers of the Italian Mondiali Antirazzisti, the largest and oldest anti-discrimination festivals in Europe, these gatherings play an increasingly important role in promoting an environment of fellowship and respect.
“Music, sport and culture serve as a means for people to get to know each other and a tool for breaking down barriers that so easily make people have a negative view of each other.”
Born of the need to address societal problems and bring cultures together, in some countries anti-discrimination festivals have grown to become the most visible challenges to street level far-right extremist political movements that have developed following political and economic tensions.
Hatred spreads across Europe
In the wake of Israeli actions in Gaza an increase of hate speech and anti-Semitic violence has taken place in several countries.
Riots in Paris, cries of ‘Jews to the gas’ in Berlin and an Italian call for a ‘Nuremberg Tribunal’ for Israel have intensified concerns on the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.
Far-right groups in Poland have been in the news for leading a campaign of hate against Roma people in the country. Blaming the Roma for crime and social grievances, groups recruit youths for vigilante patrols, with the aim of “protecting” citizens from the Roma.
Last July, a homophobic tournament held in a council venue of the Spanish capital, days before Madrid’s Gay Parade created a public outcry in the country.
“Unfortunately, the crisis and the uncertainties that people go through are increasing the rise of extremism, fanaticism and nationalism and these are expressed in different ways” said the European commissioner for culture, Androulla Vassiliou in an interview last year.
In the same year, a study led by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) revealed that between 80 and 90% of hate crimes in Europe are not reported.
To the Madrid-based Fare members, Movimiento Contra la Intolerancia, the web is feeding antagonism and actions across regions.
“Actions and feelings of hatred, and intolerant nature are shared via the internet, which means that there are no barriers” said Esteban Ibarra, president of Movimiento Contra la Intolerancia, “Pictures and racist messages are spread and seen in Galicia or Canarias, for example, and copied elsewhere.”
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Between the 1st and 3rd August the Anti-Racism World Cup hosted by the West Belfast Community of Lenadoon brought together 7-a side teams from across Europe.
The ethos of the tournament and associated events were anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist.
Anti-discrimination campaigners SARI are calling on groups to join one of the largest intercultural sporting tournaments in Europe.
The 18th Soccerfest will be organised on the 13th and14th September and focused on tackling racism and promoting interculturalism.
The festival was first organised in 1997, initially for members of new communities to integrate with host communities and give them a platform for mainstreaming opportunities.
Cultural activities including live entertainment and music for all ages will be provided throughout both days.
German group Fußball grenzenlos celebrated their 11th anniversary with an anti-racist football tournament in the municipality of Kittlitz.
Between 8 and 10 August workshops, lectures and cultural events, including exhibitions, were held at the venue promoting an intercultural exchange.
Kostrzyn nad Odrą, Poland
The “Never Again” Association have been regulars at the huge Polish Woodstock Festival in Kostrzyn and Odra Poland. This is the 18th year of the event which sees huge numbers of young Poles and Germans, held between between 31 July and 3 August.
Never Again organised events including an anti-racist football tournament, educational debates and meet and greet events with some of the festival’s stars, such as the writer Zbigniew Pawlak.
The festival gathers around 500,000 people every year.
Thousands of football fans from across Europe met once more in July at the Mondiali Antirazzisti for four days of sport, music and debates.
Organised by the Fare partner UISP the festival brought together supporter groups, activists and ethnic minorities to celebrate sports’ unique power to unite people.
This year the fan network Football Supporters Europe (FSE) hosted its annual European Football Fans’ Congress (EFFC) at the Mondiali.
In Otranto, in the Italian province of Lecce, music and sport were the highlights of the 5th “No Racism Cup”, a four-day gathering held between 8 and 11 August.
On 30 August Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD) are hosting the U-MiX, community festival to celebrate diversity.
The day long festival will feature a funfair, music and dance events, children’s activities and ‘streetkick’ football tournaments.
A.S.D Balon Mundial ONLUS asports social project organised its annual football tournament to promote the cultural diversity and integration of immigrant communities in Italy at the beginning of =July,
32 men’s and 5 women’s football teams contested the title of the tournament as music, food and artistic perfomances were held throughout the weekend, as well as cricket and basketball tournaments.
This year’s programme also counted on the support of the sports museum in Turin, where a Balon Mundial exhibition was hosted.
Football, basketball and ping pong, were some of the sports contested by mixed teams during the 6th Mundialito Antirracista held in Zaragoza, on 17 May.
The aim of the tournament was to bring together immigrants, clubs and sporting associations and the general public to promote respect and tolerance.