Portuguese football says ‘No to Racism’05 March 2014

Ananti-racismcampaignorganisedbythePortugueseUnionofProfessionalFootballers(SJPF)hasbeenraisingawarenessofdiscriminationandviolenceinsport,amongfansandstudents,acrosstheregionofLisbon.

The annual initiative ‘Week of Action against Racism and Violence in Football” also highlights football’s inclusive values of respect, tolerance and fair-play.

This year’s campaign was organised under the motto, “No to racism! Football is about being united”, and it featured initiatives such as a roadshow that visited several schools of the Portuguese capital; seminars and workshops on the issues around racism; a fixture with former players and the display of anti-racism banners at matches.

For the second consecutive year, the former Portuguese international and Liverpool player Abel Xavier was chosen as the ambassador.

“This topic [racism] is very close to my heart. Only those who have been subjected to racism know how it feels and what it means”, he added.

“I can only be supportive of this initiative that is a consciousness-raising campaign”, said the 41 year-old former player.

Over the weekend, the Portuguese league’s Round 21 matches between Sporting v Sp. Braga, Belenenses v Benfica, Vitória de Guimarães v FC Porto and Estoril v Olhanense also featured anti-racism activities.

“I was lucky to never experience such kind of incidents in Portugal. However, while I was playing in France and Russia it was very common”, said the former Benfica and Bordeaux defender Bruno Basto.

“During a match between Lokomotiv and Spartak, I remember some fans throwing bananas to one player. These incidents are lamentable and difficult to deal with and for that reason initiatives like this are very welcome”, he added.

At the campaign’s launch, the country’s football governing bodies including the Portuguese FA, the professional league and the Portuguese Ministry of Youth and Sport, signed a memorandum of understanding to further action against discrimination in the Portuguese football.

The tenth edition of the anti-racism week of action will also feature the display of anti-racism banners, today (05 March), at the national team matches against Macedonia (U21) and Cameroon.

The Portuguese week of action follows Australia’s  ‘Erase Racism Round’, a similar campaign lead by the country’s football bodies to promote multiculturalism and erradicate racism.

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