UNESCO Report on Fight against Discrimination and Racism in Football presented

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Who: UNESCO report entitled Colour? What Colour?
Where: Paris
What: presented to European Football Club Association
When: 9 February 2016

UNESCO report entitled Colour? What Colour? was presented on 9 February 2016 at the General Assembly of the European Club Association in Paris.

The report was launched by UNESCO and Juventus in November 2015 to present measures to fight on racism and discrimination in international football.

Features of the Report

• It takes stock of what has been done and is being done against racism and discrimination in the sport.

• It examines ways to assess actions undertaken and envisages other complementary actions, as well as offering examples of best practice.

• Football Clubs and the European Club Association can and should play a key role in promoting football as a powerful educational tool to fight against racism.

• The values of inclusion, anti-racism and anti-discrimination should be taught through football from a young age.

• The foreword to the Report stated that the values of solidarity, respect, equal dignity and tolerance are the foundations for the struggle against the scourges of racism and all forms of discrimination.

Recommendations of the Report

• Building on lessons learned from the success of political correctness in influencing change of use of vocabulary. No other instrument is more efficient than self- regulation by the supporters themselves.

• Learning from the history of political correctness can help create a context in which ‘self-censorship’ changes linguistic habits and traditions in the football stadium

• Limiting sanctions of fans and other actors to individuals. Collective sanctions are ethically wrong, highly controversial and counterproductive.

• Identifying and sanctioning individual perpetrators is feasible by way of contemporary technology and close collaboration with authorities. Charity work may be preferred over fines assanctions.

• Taking the education imperative seriously. There is consensus on the essential role of education in the combat against racism and discrimination.

• Local initiatives by individual clubs and civil society organisations are useful and effective.

• In addition to challenging the use of racism and discrimination as part of the fan experience, broader humanistic education should provide alternative models to the current ultra-competitive model of sport.

• Developing a sustainable concept of ‘civic brand management’. As fully-fledged corporate entities, professional clubs must be more aware of the ‘corporate social responsibility’ that comes with increased economic power.

• Committing to a longer-term vision and sustainability of efforts could come from a visionary group of clubs by introduction of a ‘quality label’ that would involve brand ambassadors and supporter groups.

Discrimination in Football

• Discrimination in the selection of players has existed from the origins of the game. Since the 1970s especially in Europe, multi-ethnic teams have become the norm.

• Xenophobic and racist attitudes and behaviours as well as hooliganism and violence by fans persisted or even appeared where they were previously absent throughout the last decades of the twentieth century.

• Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, we have seen significant change. As awareness of racism and discrimination and measures to mitigate them has made progress in society at large, this awareness has also increased within the football community.

• Racism has been tackled by both bottom-up and top-down initiatives. Multiculturalism is valued in the sport and the stands, and ethnic exclusion is a regrettable abnormality.