After a weekend in which many professional clubs across the continent joined the campaign with dedicated activities, through messages of support and themed videos, Manchester City, the current leaders of the Premier League, took to the field for the warm up of their match against Bournemouth FC wearing Football People t-shirts, sending out a message of diversity and social inclusion to thousands in the stadium and millions around the globe on TV.
Backing from Yaya
Backed by Yaya Touré, City’s Ivory Coast midfielder who has become an ambassador for the campaign, Manchester City ran a series of dedicated activities organised through the City in the Community (CITC) programme. The club hosted a National Amputee Camp for over 60 amputee players at City Football Academy and organised a powerchair football activity with striker Wilfried Bony, goalkeeper Richard Wright and City’s womens team players Natasha Harding and Lucy Bronze to celebrate diversity in sport and highlight CITCs activities with local disabled people. In other activities, the club championed key women in the game at the club to inspire the next generation of females in sport.
On 21 October legendary Manchester City goalkeeper Alex Williams will deliver an assembly in conjunction with Black History Month at the East Manchester Academy to highlight the contributions of black footballers to the club.
Clubs across Europe give support
German Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg together with the European Football for Development Network (EFDN) organised a conference for more than 50 professional clubs and foundations to address discrimination and share good practice examples to tackle exclusion.
Other professional clubs such as Russia’s FK Krasnodar and Ireland’s Cork City FC marked the occasion by shooting dedicated videos showcasing the diversity of their club and city. The videos are part of targeted online campaigns and will also be shown in the stadiums. Endorsing the campaign, many clubs across the continent have sent messages of support through leading players who have become the faces of the campaign.
Among the backers are top-stars such as Zenit Saint Petersburg, Hulk, Paris St. Germain’s Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani, former Cameroon and Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o, PSV Eindhovens Luuk de Jong and Davy Pröpper, Yacin Brahimi of FC Porto, Celtic FC’s Stuart Armstrong and Felipe Pardo of Olympiacos FC and Koke Resurrección player at Atletico Madrid.
‘It’s important to me’ – Hitzlsperger
Former Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, the only top level player to have come out as gay, offered this message: “I am proud to lend my support to the Fare Football People action weeks. It is very impressive to see supporters groups, leagues, clubs and activists across Europe unanimously getting behind the weeks to take a united stand against discrimination for more diversity and organising activities.
“They all contribute to making football a sport that welcomes everyone where no one has to fear exclusion.That’s important to me.”
UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said: “Inclusion, tolerance and acceptance of diversity are core values that UEFA promotes, using football as a channel to reach as many people as possible around the world. Racism and discrimination of any kind have no place in the game.
“This is the message that UEFA and its social responsibility partner, the Fare network, will convey at stadiums throughout Europe, with the support of national associations, clubs and players.”
‘Need for positive change and action in sport and society’ – Seedorf
Four-time UEFA Champions League winner and UEFA Global Ambassador for Diversity and Change, Clarence Seedorf, said: “I believe in the educational power of football. During my career, I always respected opponents, referees and teammates, embracing diversity as a catalyst for performance and success.
“The Fare initiative is essential as it reminds us all of the need and urge for positive change and action to take place in our sport, and our society as a whole.”