Tuesday, February 17, 2009

UEFA to assess ‘racism threat’ during Euro

UEFA will use a Warsaw anti-racism summit to assess the threat of racial prejudice being expressed during the Euro 2012 championships to be co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

In an open letter sent to the 250 delegates attending the Football Against Racism conference on March 3 and 4, UEFA General Secretary David Taylor writes: "We now want to create an opportunity to review progress and renew our call for action. In particular, we want to record positive developments and in view of EURO 2012™ look at the challenges facing us in the east and what more the European football family can do."

The Warsaw conference will be held by the Polish football association, PZPN and the pan-European Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network. The objectives of the summit, says the UEFA web site, include, “raising awareness of the problems of racism and discrimination in football among the members of the football family; proposing positive and practical solutions for addressing racism in the game and in society; and sharing examples of good practice in different settings and among different actors – clubs, NGOs and supporters' groups.’

This will be the third such conference on anti-racism organised by UEFA, after summits were held in London and Barcelona and the European soccer governing body has contributed 312,500 euros to the project.

The perception in Europe that there may be problems with racism at the championships in 2012 is not a new one. In a BBC documentary, broadcast last year, a journalist reported that the “deep seated racism still within Polish football” could be a greater threat to the games than the nation’s infamous lack of travel and tourist infrastructure.