"Youth Voices against Racism": Mobilisation of Youth to Fight Racism in Sport

How to counteract racism in sport and through sport? This question was at the heart of the project “Youth voices against racism”, an initiative of UNESCO, FC Barcelona and the European Coalition of Cities against racism, in partnership with the European Parliament launched in June 2008.

The project invited young Europeans to fight against racism through participation in local policy-making. “Sport is a mirror of society, with all of its shortcomings. But let us not forget that, above all, sport offers great possibilities for social inclusion” explains Emine Bozkurt, the Dutch member of the European Parliament who initiated the influential European resolution to tackle racism in football. Young people have a say in the struggle against racism and discrimination. With this in mind, UNESCO and FC Barcelona, in partnership with the European Parliament, launched the project “Youth Voices against Racism” on 4 June 2008. The objective was to allow young people to play an active role in the fight against racism by involving them in local policy-making and the design of local initiatives.

The central actors of "Youth Voices against Racism" were young people, aged between 15 and 18. The project was implemented through the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR). Between June and August 2008, ECCAR member cities organised consultations with young people of their municipalities to discuss the issue of racism and sport. In schools, sports associations, youth councils, or via the local media and on-line forums, the participants were able to consider the following questions: What actions can cities undertake to counteract racism in sport? How can sport and physical education promote tolerance, mutual respect and solidarity?

24 young people from 9 European cities (Barcelona, Bologna, Botkyrka, Erlangen, Graz, Malmö, Nuremberg, Serres and Uppsala) were selected to participate in the Youth Forum, organized on 19 September 2008 in Bologna (Italy) within the framework of the ECCAR General Conference. Together, they shared ideas raised during the local consultations and presented a set of practical recommendations to municipal authorities. These relate in particular to the manifestation of racist phenomena in the professional practice of sports, and to physical education and the practice of sport as a hobby.

On 6 November 2008, during a gathering at the European Parliament, a youth delegation accompanied by all the partners involved in the project presented these recommendations to Ján Figel, then European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, parliamentarians, other interested actors and the media.

"Youth Voices against Racism" was undertaken within the framework of the partnership agreement signed by FC Barcelona and UNESCO on 23 November 2007 in order to promote the values of sport through education and awareness-raising.

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