Mediterraneo Antirazzista21 May 2008

From 19th to 22nd June,Palermo will host the first edition of the “Mediterraneo Antirazzista” tournament. Through a series of friendly matches, this football tournament for children and young people aims to stand as a symbol against discrimination of any kind. The founding concept for such a tournament, which is organised by various associations, is rooted in the Anti-Racist World Cup.

We asked Massimo from Laboratorio Zen to tell us how and why he came up with the idea:

“The idea of organising the Mediterraneo came to us and the kids from Zen after they had taken part in last year’s Anti-Racist World Cup…they all saw this as an immensely positive experience, which also provided them with the opportunity to meet many different people from a huge range of countries and backgrounds. Over the past two years, football has helped Zen to consolidate a strong network of contacts between our neighbourhood, other peripheral districts, and the city itself.

Zen (an expansion zone to the north of the city) is located on the outskirts of Palermo, and is one of the city's largest and most run-down ghetto areas: the neighbourhood is made up of a series of degrading and hardly inviting social housing estates. More than 20,000 people live here. Over 5,000 properties are illegally occupied, which in turn leads to a string of problems concerning supply and services.
Social conditions in the zone are typical of such ghetto culture: social exclusion, extortion, crime and oppression.
We have worked in this area for over two years, using music and sports to open up possibilities and paths to cultural emancipation in a place where exchange, meeting new people and constructive gatherings are deliberately and purposefully shunned. Through such activities, we aim to create fruitful ground for working with the people and their inextricably linked thoughts, which have been laming the city and above all, this anti-social area for decades”.

From this perspective, and with these aims and purposes, the Mediterraneo Antirazzista tournament was born: such initiatives not only enable us to tear down the bounds of racism and lend a voice to legitimate causes in an area which otherwise only ever receives negative publicity. They also serve as clear evidence that in places plagued by extreme debasement and exclusion, it is indeed possible, even with the simplest of measures, to establish concrete contact and ensure that all those seemingly insuperable obstacles can be demolished.”

The web site: http://www.mediterraneoantirazzista.org/ features details of the programme, further information and registration forms.