Held on 14 April in the Slovakian capital Bratislava, the initiative put previous incidents of discriminatory nature in Slovak sport in the spotlight to discussed positive action that clubs and fans can take to foster a more inclusive environment and prevent discrimination.
Participants shared a wide spectrum of views regarding the role of media both in reporting and condemning racism and far-right extremism in sport.
The country has been previously criticised by the United Nations Committee for Elimination of Racial Discrimination for its inclusion policies. In 2013 the UN issued a series of recommendations underlining the prevailing deficiencies in suppressing racism and racial discrimination in Slovakia.
In 2014, the Japanese striker Yuki Nakamura left the Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota after being repeatedly subjected to racist abuse by Slovak fans.
At the time Nakamura wrote on his blog: “It’s a real shame but I have come home because I have been subjected to racism at Rimavska Sobota and I can’t carry on living there”.
The media workshop was organised as part of a partnership between the University of Bratislava, the Fare partner Institute for Intercultural Dialogue (IPMD) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Drawing from his experience, Different Colours United Congo-born amateur player Martia Jaures said: “I can see progress when it comes to tolerance and diversity in Slovakia, but unfortunately there is still discrimination too.”
“Journalists have a massive influence on people’s opinion about these issues so it is important that they address these accordingly.”
Sergey Danilov, co-founder of the IPMD project Šport Spája – Sport, different colours, one game and event organiser said: “Through our project we monitor racism and intolerance in stadiums, similarly to what these students will one day do as watchdogs of society.
“[During the workshop] We discussed practical examples and addressed several important questions.”