community has gathered in London today for a unique conference
carrying a simple message - kick racism out of football.
Representatives from UEFA's 52 member associations, Europe's
leading clubs, supporters' organisations and anti-racist groups have
converged on Stamford Bridge for a day of discussions being held under
the banner 'Unite Against Racism'.
The conference is being organised by European football's governing
body, the English Football Association and the pan-European Football
Against Racism (FARE) network, which has been given significant support
by UEFA, including financial backing, since the network began its
activities in 1999.
Racism and xenophobia has been a cancer within football for many
years, and there is widespread consensus that racist attitudes have a
detrimental effect on the game at all levels, on and off the field of
play. For this reason, UEFA and FARE have been working in close harmony
for some time to orchestrate a campaign which transmits a clear and
coherent message that racists must be driven out of stadiums and off
Last autumn, the two organisations joined forces to issue a
ten-point plan of action aimed at helping associations and clubs to take
measures against players, coaches, officials and supporters engaging in
racist conduct. UEFA itself has also reinforced the disciplinary measures
that can be taken for racist conduct. Penalties range from fines and
suspensions to playing matches behind closed doors, and even stadium
The conference agenda includes presentations by senior European
football personalities, in-depth workshops and a panel session including
top players, such as Chelsea FC's French international Marcel Desailly,
who are active in the campaign against racism. Workshops topics include
'Educating fans, stewards and police', 'Developing policies at a national
level', 'What clubs can do' and 'Tackling racism in UEFA competitions'. A
draft guide to steps that should be taken to tackle racism in European
football will be published at the conference.
Contributors at the conference include: Gerhard Aigner, UEFA Chief
Executive; Per Omdal, UEFA vice-president; David Dein, Arsenal FC and FA
vice-chairman; David Davies, the FA's acting CEO; Frantisek Laurinec,
president of the Slovak Football Association; Dr Alfred Sengle,
vice-president of the German Football Association; and the chairman of
Chelsea FC, Ken Bates.
Among the other contributors are the national co-ordinator of FARE, Piara
Powar; Garth Crooks, former player and broadcaster; Paul Elliott,
ex-player and campaigner; Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the
Professional Footballers' Association; plus some leading Premiership
players. The conference will be co-chaired by UEFA communications and
public affairs director Mike Lee and Lord Herman Ouseley of the UK-based
organisation campaigning against racism in football, Kick It Out.
In addition to UEFA's 52 member associations, clubs represented
include Real Madrid CF, FC Bayern München, Liverpool FC, Leeds United
AFC, S.S. Lazio, Parma AC, PSV Eindhoven, Rangers FC and Galatasaray SK.
"UEFA realises that its action against this scourge of
society is only one part of the picture, which is why we are pushing for
a concerted effort on the part of all those concerned," said Gerhard
Aigner. "The European conference on racism is a step in that
direction. The first of its kind in European football, this conference is
not an end in itself but rather a means to an end and the start of a
campaign that should concern each and everyone of us."
"UEFA recognises that it has a responsibility to ensure that
racism has no place in football," added Mr Aigner. "An
important part of the sport's success is that it brings together players
and spectators from different cultures. Football always has been,
and must remain, a game for everyone and a strong force for integration