Captains to send anti-racism message
The fight to banish racism from football takes centre stage at the forthcoming UEFA EURO 2008ї semi-finals. ( euro2008.uefa.com )
At the matches in Basel on Wednesday and Vienna on Thursday, the team captains will deliver a message against racism and in support of diversity directly after the national anthems prior to kick-off. The initiative is part of a series of messages that will include a huge choreography in the stadium involving every spectator. The activities are taking place under the tournament's Unite Against Racism programme.
Unite Against Racism is an awareness campaign run by the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network with UEFA's backing, as well as with the support of the professional players' union FIFPro. It incorporates various activities organised before and during UEFA EURO 2008ї. The project's profile is given an added boost by Hublot, a national supporter in both host countries, which has dedicated its pitchside advertising space to the campaign. UEFA is supporting the project to the tune of CHF500,000 (ї312,500).
"We are lucky that in this tournament we haven't had any racist or xenophobic incidents," said UEFA communications director William Gaillard. "It's a real sign of maturity on the part of fans coming from all over Europe and from many different cultures. We see that as a very positive situation but we're also aware that this kind of phenomenon does not disappear overnight and that we have to keep on sending the message, and making sure that football fans receive it and spread it."
The Unite Against Racism logo is displayed not only on the perimeter boards in the stadiums but also on the captains' armbands, the match tickets, the ball boys and girls' bibs as well as the stewards' bibs and the substitute players' bibs. The campaign also includes an advertising spot broadcast at every game ї Different Languages, One Goal: No To Racism. The UEFA EURO 2008ї Unite Against Racism campaign was launched on the first day of the tournament, 7 June, at the Hilton Hotel in Basel. The key gathering brought together representatives of UEFA and FARE, former footballers, administrators and non-government organisations.