After a meeting of the Supporters Club with FC Zenit regarding a joint programme of activities in St. Petersburg involving ethnic minority groups a first joint action started on the middle of May in the framework of FC Zenit's social programme “Lessons of football and friendship” in one of St. Petersburg's schools. This lesson was organised with the support of FC Zenit, FC Zenit Supporters Club and the humanitarian organisation Icumbi, whose representative Valens Maniragena was invited as the main expert. Valens expressed his point of view on the problem of racism in St. Petersburg and told the students about his experiences of living and working in St. Petersburg.
Last week, FC Zenit organised a social event “Show racism the red card” with the participation of FC Zenit football player and team capitan – Anatoly Timoshuk and students from St.-Petersburg schools. FC Zenit Supporters club representatives also participated in this event and invited the expert from African Union, Andrey Ozigis. During this meeting the participants discussed the problem of racism on the pitch and out of the stadium and tried to find ways to tackle this problem. So, Andrey Ozigis, from African Union, suggested to form a football team of his landsmen and play with other FC Zenit's Supporters. His very passionate speech impressed the participants. This event was highlighted by St. Petersburg mass media accordingly.
Together with the colleagues from African Union and the humanitarian organisation Icumbi the Supporters Club attented one of FC Zenit's last home matches. The supporters hope that this tradition to attend team matches together will remain regular.
We are happy that common action by various FARE partners in St. Petersburg brings some good results, said Rafal Pankowski, a member of the Polish organisation 'Never Again' Association, which helps coordinate FARE activities in Eastern Europe. On 22 May, the pan-European activities of FARE were presented at a conference on youth and racism held at the St. Petersburg State University under the auspices of UNESCO, in cooperation with the Governor of St. Petersburg, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and Citizen's Watch NGO.
The participants confirmed that racism is a serious issue in Russian football and activities such as those inspired by FARE are much in demand, said Rafal Pankowski.