Racism in football Where to go now?
By Antonio Saccone, EVS at the ISCA office in Copenhagen, Spring 2008
In connection with the campaign ”All Different All Equal”, the Council of Europe organized an international seminar entitled “Promotion of the fan-coaching by the youth sector”, focused on the awareness of the public opinion, the decision makers and the young people about the phenomena of racism and violence in sport. The meeting took place in the Europa Park in Rust, in Germany, from the 6th to the 10th of April 2008.
The symposium involved two different groups of participants. The first was members of official institutions from different Member States of the Council of Europe: all of them are involved in the sport field, in the football, in the organization of big sport events. The second group was young people from different ngos, active in sport, in anti-racism and in the social field.
In the first part of the workshop – in plenary session – emerged the value of prevention policies: a series of presentations showed the activity oriented efforts to strengthen the dialogue with supporters ongoing in different countries, studied “ad hoc” for a special big events or normally implemented for the regular national competitions. The second part of the workshop involved only the young people from the ngos: the focus was on the discrimination and the racism in sport and on the “ideal concept” of a supporter. This group wrote a letter to the decision makers, putting in it all the ideas that emerged in the training: the cooperation and the dialogue between official and unofficial institution is necessary to fight the violence and racism in sport.
The long term policies look to me to be the secret to get considerable results. All the actors who play in the sport field like public and sport authorities, both on central and local level, sport clubs, players and athletes, media, supporters and ngos active at grass root level should be involved in this long term policy.
The cooperation among all this actors is necessary because sport is a huge social phenomenon: often if there is a problem in sport is because there is a problem in society. And racism and violence surely can be considered as strong cancers in the body of our society, especially in this era of globalization, global changing and intercultural integration.
But the relation between sport and society can be considered “two ways”: sometime the sport can be a great instrument to solve social problem, to overcome huge social obstacles, to give opportunities for disadvantaged people. If the “competitive” sport, especially the big events, can be a great stage to send social messages, the “sport for all” - the “other sport” - can be considered a powerful tool for get the integration and the socialization among people with different background, religion, gender, ability, race. The communication between people who can’t speak the same language is hard; but kicking a ball, they can have fun, share a game or a simple laugh. Playing together they can set a relation and the colours of the skin, the religion etc. do not matter.
So the sport can be a strong tool for the long term policy. Well, the challenge is hard and maybe the goal is far away. But we must try: if we will be able to remove all the “barriers at the entrance”, to highlight the social value of sport activities and to spread the concept of “sport for all” maybe we will not be able to entirely remove racism and violence but, for sure, the body of the society will feel better.