The ‘refoundation’ of FARE18 November 2009

Ten years on from the establishment of FARE in Vienna, the network has many achievements to its credit. We have tackled racism and other forms of intolerance in the stadiums and changed attitudes in the boardrooms of the sport’s governing bodies. At the grassroots its annual Action Week has supported a plethora of activities, while at the elite level major anti-racist statements have become commonplace at international competitions viewed by millions.

The scale of the network has also grown dramatically, with partners now in nearly 40 countries. But FARE’s organisational development has not kept pace with this activity and growth. Today, there is a need for more formal and democratic structures, to provide proper transparency and accountability to supporters and funders alike.

For several months, FARE has been reviewing its governance arrangements, consulting with many activists across Europe, and the way ahead now appears clear. FARE should be transformed from a loose network of leading national partners and allied organisations into an international NGO in its own right.

The ‘new’ FARE will have arrangements for membership (for organisations and individuals), an assembly to ensure democratic control, an elected board to manage the organisation between assemblies, and a professional secretariat to provide support. Much background work has already been done, particularly on the draft statutes to embody these arrangements.

FARE Networking Conference
The next step will be another historic event in Vienna which is being organised by FARE’s Austrian partner FairPlay. The conference “Football for Equality: Challenging Racism and Homophobia across Europe“ will take place on 12-14 December, at Franz-Horr-Stadion (home of FK Austria Wien) in Vienna. The conference which is partly funded by the European Commission will gather grass-roots activists from nearly 30 European countries to discuss a common agenda in combating racism and discrimination based on sexual discrimination in football. An evening reception will celebrate the achievements of FARE and look to the challenges of the years ahead. One function of the conference will also be to give FARE a democratic constitution which is responsive to members’ concerns. In particular, participants will agree on new statutes and endorse an interim board. Also in train is the establishment of a small FARE secretariat. The aim is not to turn FARE into a bureaucracy. On the contrary, it is to ensure that it becomes more effective in assisting campaigners on the ground and communicating what they are doing to the ‘football family’ and beyond.

These are exciting times for FARE, including, as it looks ahead to the UEFA Euro 2012, the development of an East European Project to tackle intolerance in and around the sport in Poland and Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Turning FARE from a network run by a small group of committed activists to a membership-based democratic entity, supported by professional staff, will help ensure that its next decade is even more productive than its first.