The friendly international between Austria and the World Cup participant from the Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago, on Wednesday 15th November at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna marked the start of a campaign being organised by the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) in preparation for the UEFA EURO 2008. In partnership with the “FairPlay. Different Colours. One Game” initiative and UEFA, the ÖFB aims to ensure that the EURO is an event for all sections of the population.
Players, fans and artists active in the stadium
Both teams and the match officials showed racism the red card during the team line-up, and were accompanied by children carrying a banner with the message “Football against racism” onto the pitch. The actors on the pitch were supported by a fan choreography in the stands. In sector E, 2500 fans and spectators displayed red cards against racism.
In line with the multicultural character of the match against the “Soca Warriors”, Courtney Jones from Trinidad & Tobago also appeared in the pre-match entertainment. Jones, who has lived in Austria for ten years and is one of the most sought-after drummers in the music scene, recounts his own personal experience with racism as a theme in his music.
“In the song ‘When’”, says the percussion artist,
“I ask myself when I will become accepted and treated the same as everyone else. I wrote it after an experience on the street when some older people looked at me in such a strange way – and that for the second time that same day. I believe that this campaign against racism in the stadium will give the people food for thought.”.
Football as an integrative model
Captain Andreas Ivanschitz and record international Andreas Herzog commented on behalf of the Austrian national team:
“We are happy to support such campaigns with total conviction, because they are still enormously important. Football was, is and always should be something that brings people closer together, and everyone in the stadium – players, officials and fans – should set an example and leave no room for racism!”
Trinidad & Tobago’s England-born World Cup goalkeeper, Shaka Hislop, is also a great supporter of the campaign:
“From the 1970s up to the mid 1980s, football was a real breeding place for racism. Thanks to such campaigns and initiatives, that has now changed. That is a great step forwards! I hope that the children who see this action will take the idea of anti-racism home with them, into their schools and into their groups of friends.”
Workshops in amateur football
Following the FARE Action Week in 37 European countries successfully coordinated by FairPlay-vidc in Vienna and the pan-Austrian FairPlay stadium campaigns at all the Bundesliga and First Division matches in October, anti-racism is now being promoted in amateur football together with the ÖFB. Practice-oriented workshops and brochures are in preparation for the ÖFB coach and referee training courses in order to increase the competence in reacting appropriately to intercultural conflicts and cases of racism. Further steps towards a EURO 2008 free from racism and discrimination are the staging of anti-racism workshops in youth football and at schools, as well as integrative football tournaments.