Irish League Leaders Give Racism the Red Card

Glentoran FC has become the first Irish League side to publish material tri-lingual catering in addition to its traditional fan base but also targetting new Belfast residents from Portugal and Poland.Glentoran are five points ahead of Linfield in the Carnegie Premier League and will be challenging the best of the Eircom League of Ireland sides in the Setanta Cup from February 26th.The club stresses it is a practical way to combat growing racism, not only in Belfast but across Northern Ireland. An Observer survey two months ago found that 97 per cent of all media-reported racist attacks between 2005 and 2006 in Northern Ireland occurred in loyalist areas.Organisations on both sides of the Irish Sea set up to counter racism in sport have praised the initiative and called on other clubs in Ireland and the UK to follow Glentoran’s example.Stafford Reynolds, Glentoran’s chairman, says the website and the outreach programmes by the club into the new communities in Belfast showed they were serious about battling racism.’From a commercial viewpoint it makes sense to reach out to these new communities. There are thousands of Portuguese and Eastern European workers now living in Northern Ireland. There must be young players out there in these new communities who are good enough to play in the Irish League. So it’s not just about building a new fan base, there is bound to be a new talent base that’s untapped among the migrant workers coming here.’Reynolds added the move is designed to help the migrant workers integrate better into Northern Irish society. An estimated 50,000 immigrants have arrived over the past three years, the majority of them from Portugal and the former Soviet bloc nations. Adam Kaldonek, 21, from Szczecin, northern Poland, was one of the first of the new migrant workers to visit the Oval last Friday. Kaldonek runs a business advising and helping fellow Polish immigrants throughout Northern Ireland.’A lot of Poles work six days a week in Northern Ireland so it might be difficult for them to turn up for a match at the Oval,’ he said. ‘But I would encourage Polish people and others from abroad working here to come along.’Glentoran will face tough competition alongside Derry City, Drogheda United and Linfield FC in group 1 of the Setanta Cup. Their first outing will be home at the Oval to FAI Cup winners Derrry City. Derry held the might of Paris Saint Germain to a 0-0 draw at the Brandywell in September. Drogheda United won the Setanta Cup 2006, while the Glens Belfast rivals Linfield FC won the Setanta Cup in the inaguaral year 2005.Shelbourne FC and Cork City are in group 2 alongside Dungannon Swifts and Portadown.Source:

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