Bratislava conference kicks off with pledges from EC and UEFA08 April 2005

Ninety delegates gathered in the stadium of ASK Inter Bratislava this morning for the 2005 FARE networking conference “Using Football for Intercultural Dialogue and Anti-Discrimination”, which is taking place in Bratislava, Slovakia, on April 8 – 9.

Delegates heard welcoming speeches by Daniel Milo, director of People Against Racism, Slovakia, Jozef Barmos, general manager ASK Inter Bratislava, Vladimir Waenke, sport manager Slovak Football Association, Pedro Velazquez-Hernandez, European Commission DG Education and Culture/Sport Unit, and Patrick Gasser, UEFA Assistance Programmes.

Reflecting FARE´s determination to make the fight against racism in football a truly pan-European struggle, over 50 per cent of conference delegates represent supporters clubs, football clubs, ethnic minority organisations and NGO´s from central and eastern Europe. Through networking and the exchange of experience, delegates are taking the opportunity to learn from each other and share good practice.

The European Commission pledged to consult FARE member groups in the development of the new commission sports policy. Mr. Velazquez-Hernandez encouraged all grass roots groups to engage with the Commission through written submissions and attendance at forthcoming conferences on the vital new policy.

Mr. Gasser reiterated the importance of grass roots action in underpining the work of governing bodies, such as UEFA and national FAs, in tackling racism.

Mr. Waenke underlined the Slovak FA´s determination to fight racism and discrimination in football and to promote integration of ethnic minorities especially the Roma population.

At the Conference media briefing, UEFA Director of Communications, William Gaillard said that fighting racism was UEFA´s number one social objective. “whilst football cannot solve the problem of racism in society, we can use it to reach sections of the population who may otherwise not be reached. This conference is important for raising awareness”, he added.

The fact that more racist incidents are being reported means that tolerance for racism in football is lower than ever before. Whilst much has already been done, it is still not enough. FAREs role is to hammer home the need for renewed efforts to rid the game of racism for once and for all.

The conference has been organised by People Against Racism of Slovakia and is being hosted by ASK Inter Bratislava.