pictured: Niall Blaney TD and Fergus Darcy TD with ex- Ireland international Curtis Fleming with pupils from Our Lady of Lourdes National School, Inchicore to launch the FARE week of activities in IrelandBy Des Tomlinson,More than 140 clubs, schools and community groups are marking Football Against Racism in Europe week Ireland 2010. The FARE week begins on 14th October and concludes on the 26th October.Continued exposure of the diversity within football – including participation by females and people from diverse ethnic, cultural and national backgrounds in the game – would help breakdown gender stereotyping and racism.The Association in conjunction with its Intercultural Football Advisory Group today (13.10.10) launched its programme of activities to mark Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) Week 2010.FARE is a Europe-wide initiative, aimed at tackling discrimination and racism. It is supported by FIFA, UEFA and the European Commission. In Ireland, it is being promoted by the FAI and is supported by the Office of the Minister for Integration. One of the themes for FARE Week 2010 is promoting gender equality in football. FARE Week 2010 runs from 14th to 26th October.Racism and discrimination – although less of an issue at international and professional club level – still persist at local levels. The economic crisis gives people a reason – however irrational – to propagate racist and discriminatory messages. This makes the FARE Week initiative more important than ever before.It’s heartening for the FAI to have secured a strong response to FARE Week in Ireland: and this is testimony to the many decent people involved with football who promote on a weekly basis the values inherent in football; equity, fair play and respect.We have over 140 clubs, schools and community groups who are taking part in activities, and certainly hope the Irish public will show their support by attending FARE Week events, and ultimately rejecting actions and behaviour that promote racism and discriminationSpeaking at the launch of FARE Week, former Ireland international Curtis Fleming said: “Football is a universal institution that is familiar to almost every person on the globe. This makes it one of the most effective vehicles for fighting inequalities and racism.“While much of media and public focus tends to be on the big clubs and national teams, there is a raft of activities – centring on football – within local communities which involve people from different ethnic backgrounds, gender and ability. The more the football-loving population engages in activity at this level, the greater our success will be in promoting a positive understanding of diversity in our society.“The media, sports commentators and leaders in sporting organisations all have a responsibility to highlight these activities for the common good. Profiling intercultural play-offs or giving attention to women’s football in the media are small ways in which the power of football can be advanced to promote tolerance.”Curtis Fleming, whose father is Jamaican and mother is from Dublin, said that he was always aware of being ‘different’ to his peers when growing up in Ballybough: “I certainly experienced what it was liked to be singled out because of the colour of my skin. But I found football to be a critical outlet where I could be respected for being part of a team and it helped me develop life-long friendships.“While I am not blinkered to the fact that racism and discrimination in football abounds, positive leadership and role models work to make football a uniting force. Footballers playing with the top clubs are hero-worshipped by young kids, so they can be hugely influential in challenging negative behaviour and promoting respect for cultural diversity. But it’s equally important that when children go to matches – even if it’s only a kick-around in their local park – that they don’t hear adults around them using racist language or taunting opposition players because of cultural differences. The same applies to gender inequality. Respect for diversity needs to be encouraged at all levels of the game,” he added.The FAI is marking FARE Week in a variety of ways, including:
- A number of League of Ireland clubs will participate in fare week by hosting half-time events or having players line out with kids wearing ant-racism t-shirts at the start of matches.
- At grassroots level, schools and community organisations – with support from the FAI – will promote the anti-racism message in select schools through the ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ programme. The programme will combine teaching resources with football development skills, as well as an interschool tournament to promote awareness of racism and understanding of multiculturalism.
- A friendly match between representatives of the Houses of the Oireachtas football team and the diplomatic corps will take place on 20th October 2010 at 1.30pm at Irishtown Stadium, Dublin 4.
Throughout Europe, 40 countries will mark FARE week with activities including football tournaments, broadcast messages from professional football players and dedicating home fixtures to anti-racism messages. UEFA is promoting FARE Week with a major advertising campaign, including a TV campaign to be broadcast during match intervals. At certain matches, team captains will be accompanied on to the pitch by children wearing the FARE Week shirt.FARE Week is also supported by ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ and SARI (Sports Against Racism in Ireland), two NGO partners of the FAI.Show Racism the Red Card FAI FARE week feature on News2day RTE Fast forward to 3min 46sec.http://www.rte.ie/player/#v=1083290Further information about FARE Week is available at: www.farenet.org.