FairPlay. Different Colours. One Game.
The anti-racism campaign in Austrian football
The Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) launched the “FairPlay. Different Colours. One Game” campaign in the European Year against Racism in 1997 in Austria .
The objective of this first and only nationwide intercultural sports project is to use the popularity and integrative power of football to fight racism and other forms of discrimination by means of pro-active methods. The FairPlay team carries out joint activities with football clubs, fan groups, migrant organisations and schools. Within these activities FairPlay emphasises the unequal relationships between European and African soccer, such as the issue of trafficking young African footballers.
Since 1997, FairPlay has worked closely with the European Commission. FairPlay is a founding member and coordinating agency for the European network Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE). FARE aims to link local and national initiatives throughout Europe, exchanging experiences and to jointly become active against all forms of discrimination in football. Since 2001, FairPlay has been a continuous partner of UEFA through the framework of FARE. In the context of the UEFA EURO 2008TM in Austria and Switzerland FairPlay-vidc is carrying out three programmes (Unite Against Racism, Fan Embassies and Euroschools 2008) which also enjoy the support of UEFA and the Austrian Federal chancellery (BKA).
Manifestations of Racism and Exclusion in Austrian Football
As elsewhere in Europe racism, xenophobia and discrimination manifests itself on different levels in football. We may differentiate two forms of racism: Overt racism - on the one hand – which is openly expressed and is generally targeted towards migrant and ethnic minority groups which have a weak position in the society at large. On the other hand we have covert or institutionalised forms of racism.
In Austrian football, we still witness overt forms of racism and discrimination inside stadiums such as abuse of black players, the display of anti-Semitic banners or chants against homosexuals,- even this has declined considerably over the past decade.
We can also identify institutionalised forms of exclusion in Austrian football institutions based on ethnic and national origin. Apart from coaches and players, there are very few minorities involved in the administration of football. The two big migrant communities in Austria, the Turkish and the Ex-Yugoslavian community are also underrepresented in the stadiums.
An Austrian particularity is the regulation of the football association to limit the number of non-Austrian nationals including EU-players in amateur soccer to a maximum of three. This creates a situation where legally resident migrants are excluded from playing associational football. This leads to a proliferation of segregated, non-official leagues.
The Need for European networking
A decade ago the hesitation of football governing bodies to address the problem of racism in football was not only a reality in Austria, but also in other parts of Europe. Therefore, in 1999 FairPlay was pushing forward the foundation of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network. Supporter clubs together with professional anti-racist football campaigns invited FAs, players unions and migrant organisations to Vienna to develop a common strategy. Currently, more than 300 organisations in 38 European countries are linked to the FARE network.
FairPlay acts currently as the coordinating agency for FARE. FARE aims to link local and national initiatives throughout Europe, exchanging experiences and to jointly become active against different forms of discrimination in football.