On 24 and 25 June 2009, the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 in South Africa will provide the platform to deliver a clear statement once again to the world about football's united stance against racism. Thus, the two semi-final matches of the "Festival of Champions" will be dedicated to the fight against all forms of discrimination.
A few minutes before kick-off, the two team captains will read a declaration to encourage players, officials and fans around the world to say "no to racism", not only in football but also in society in general. Both teams and the match officials will also pose together with a banner displaying the unequivocal "Say no to Racism" message as part of the official match protocol.
"Football is a mirror of society and unfortunately, even in this modern age, our game is still blighted by scourges such as racism. However, football has the power to unite players and coaches, binding them together through the values of discipline and mutual respect. We say no to racism but equally we say yes to solidarity, respect and tolerance, the basic values of our game. There is no place in football for racism," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
Although discrimination of any form should be rejected 365 days of the year - as underlined in FIFA's Statutes - the FIFA Anti-Discrimination Days seek to highlight this message in front of a global audience of millions.
"It is as a South African and as an international freedom fighter that I have accepted the challenge to make a common cause with FIFA's fight against racial intolerance. It is clear that this initiative will not solve the problem in general but it sends a clear message," said Tokyo Sexwale, Minister of Human Settlements, South African human rights activist and member of the FIFA Committee for Fair Play and Social Responsibility.
FIFA recognises the unique role it has in coordinating opinions and expertise from all corners of the globe to share experiences and to find effective solutions to tackle racism and other forms of discrimination.
"We have made tremendous progress in the fight against racism, but a great amount of work still needs to be done. There has to be a policy of zero tolerance towards racism, and a sense of collective responsibility among everyone involved. Football can be a wonderful vehicle to bring everyone together, and these Anti-Discrimination Days are a way of laying down a solid basis from which to move forward," said Paul Elliott an Ambassador for the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, who played in England, Scotland and Italy during a twelve year football career.
FIFA held its first Anti-Discrimination Day on 7 July 2002 following a resolution against discrimination passed at the FIFA Congress in Buenos Aires in 2001.