Friday, 5 March 2010

FARE conference, Vienna

One decade after the foundation of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network in Vienna, The Justin Campaign joined more than 100 campaigners, fans, football administrators, players, policy makers and experts from 28 European countries in Austria’s capital to devise the future of the FARE network.

Over the weekend the “Football for Equality” networking conference, held at FK Austria Vienna’s Horr stadium, looked into new approaches in challenging racism and homophobia across European football. Only a few days ago Austria Vienna supporters displayed banners with far-right symbols and chanted fascist slogans during the UEFA Europa League match against Athletic Bilbao at the Horr-stadium.

In her opening address MEP Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the LGBT Inter-Group of the European Parliament, stressed her satisfaction that FARE addressed homophobia for the first time so prominently in a conference.

“For football”, Ulrike Lunacek said, “it is also clear that there are some gay man among football players - but very few of them are out. Justin Fashanu was one: A black man, but also gay. He could not live his full potential and committed suicide because of the fear, because of the reactions, because of the prejudices. That’s why it is so important to work against this fear, to be open, breaking the surface, breaking the silence.”

Jason Hall, Founding Director of The Justin Campaign said: “It’s important that all communities affected by prejudice and discrimination join forces in opposing hatred and intolerance. These conferences are important in ensuring the right people are involved in such discussions; however it's the actions that come afterward that are important. Homophobia in football is endemic, a problem that will only be resolved once people begin working collaboratively on the issue, the friendships and partnerships made her today are important, these are what will bring about change in the future.”