May 15, 2009

Football: a helping hand (foot and header) against racism and poverty

Filed under: opinion article,sports — newritings @ 3:11 pm

When Gnegneri Yaya Touré (born May 13, 1983 in Ivory Coast) FC Barcelona star scored his brilliant goal against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey, Wednesday, he also scored a goal  against racism amongst a minority of the generally progressive Basque fans at the match. In the media today, he continued to speak out against racism and we must thank and join him in our collective disapproval of racism and sexism in sports and society. There is a need for a consistent campaign against racism and not only when some fans yell racist comments against opposing teams. Groups such as FARE, Football Against Racism in Europe, must be supported. The group has as its objectives the following:

– To promote a commitment to fight racism at all levels of professional and amateur football across Europe – in stadiums, on the pitch, in administration, in coaching and sport education and through the media

– To raise awareness amongst the football family to the integrative potential of football and to encourage players, clubs, associations, supporters, coaches, administrators, referees, journalists and policy makers to take action against discrimination

– To foster networking and exchange of good practice transnationally with a range of partners

– To undertake activities to capacity build and empower marginalized and discriminated groups, in particular young people, migrants and ethnic minorities.

But there is another story that took my heart  today, a bit belated but nevertheless, it is about Villarreal star (ex Arsenal) Robert Pires  who could be called in the name of a lesser known John Lennon song, A working class hero. The report in the  UK Sun newspaper ran a story last month about Robert Pires being part of a Spanish scheme to give fans on the dole free tickets – Villarreal are part of an initiative to give former season-ticket holders who have lost their jobs free entry.

It is believed that the higher earning players like Pires will contribute to the scheme to make this possible. This is in response to giving a helping hand to the greedy hand of the not so invisible hand of capitalism which is behind the massive job losses and misery affecting many of the working peoples and the poor of the world. The Sun reported that “Michael Brunskill from fans group the Football Supporters’ Federation wants to see the same in the Premier League” in the UK. Supporting those who make the game must be welcomed and emulated globally. To make sports for all a reality, the social net must be cast wider, but that is a subject for much longer work and must involve the Spanish FA and world football community. (And you may ask, what of the Olympic movement or other sporting codes?)

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