A team of 45 experts were selected and trained as part of the most comprehensive scheme of its kind ever organised. The pool of volunteers relate to the fan culture, socio-political issues and common discriminatory practices in football within the countries represented at the tournament.
Other preparation work by Fare has included making all participating countries aware of the signs and symbols that are commonly displayed in football but have no place in a discrimination-free sporting occasion.
Piara Powar, Fare Executive Director said, “Alongside the security concerns that France faces are potential issues that we have seen recurring in football – including the presence of far-right extremists and nationalists, Islamophobia and the rejection of new refugees. We expect many of these issues, alongside the usual under-currents of homophobia, to be a feature of some matches.
“The opportunities for education are everywhere but if supporters with pre-determined agendas of hate come to the Euro they will face action.”
The system involves the deployment of two Fare Observers at all matches to monitor and record incidents of discrimination. Where appropriate observer match reports will be sent to UEFA disciplinary bodies for action. Fare will also keep a log of broader issues that relate to discrimination that are part of the tournament in host cities.
This will be the first time a system of this kind will be fully operational at a major sporting tournament. At EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, a number of risk matches were observed by Fare observers, resulting in 13 reports sent to UEFA.
Since 2013, the system has been also running at UEFA international club competitions and more recently at EURO Qualifiers. A similar programme is also being implemented by Fare in partnership with FIFA at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The Euro 2016 Observer System is one of the five social responsibility pillars of UEFA Respect campaign – ‘Respect Diversity’. Others include: ‘Respect Access for All’, ‘Respect Your Health’, ‘Respect the Environment’ and ‘Respect Fan Culture’.