Full support from Nelson Mandela for FIFA initiative
On 30 June and 1 July 2006, FIFA will be using the platform of the world's most popular sporting event the FIFA World Cup by holding this year's FIFA Anti-Discrimination Day to make a clear statement to billions of people around the world about football's united stance against racism. At all four quarter-final matches just before kick-off, both team captains will read a declaration to demonstrate a firm stance against racism, not only in football but also in society in general. Both teams and the match officials will also pose jointly with a banner displaying the unequivocal 'Say No to Racism' message as part of the official pre-match protocol.
Although rejection of any form of discrimination should apply all year round, the FIFA Anti-Discrimination Day gives the football family the opportunity to join together and raise its voice in condemning this blight on society around the world. "FIFA places great importance on respecting ethnic backgrounds. As the world's most popular sport, football has the power to fight racism. Its integrative force helps to make people understand that skin colour has no impact whatsoever on our everyday routine, our lives, and our sport. Football is a school for life that must promote values of mutual understanding and coexistence," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
"We are very pleased to have been informed of this important FIFA initiative, Say No to Racism. This is a timely intervention on a major issue, which has still not been resolved. Sport can be a great power for good and can play a leading part in the fight for human rights. Although I cannot be with you in Germany, you have my full support," said Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
"It was courageous of FIFA to take this step. The world governing body of football did not need to dedicate this powerful platform to the fight against racism. It is clear that this event will not solve the problem but it sends a clear message. This project touches us all and it is great that FIFA supports our combat," stressed Tokyo Sexwale, South African human rights activist and member of the 2010 World Cup Organising Committee.
With the same spirit, FIFA and UNICEF have together dedicated a joint campaign to the 2006 FIFA World Cup 'UNITE FOR CHILDREN, UNITE FOR PEACE' that spotlights the importance of caring for children above all. "The attitudes and behaviours of children are shaped early in life and by the adults around them. At their very heart, racism and discrimination involve demeaning and devaluing other human beings, whether based on gender, race, disability or any other characteristics. I commend FIFA for addressing the issues of racism and discrimination," said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director.
But this year's initiatives during this summer's football festival go far beyond the 12 stadiums and the Anti-Discrimination Day. At each of the 64 games, a banner covering the entire centre circle bearing the tournament slogan "A time to make friends" combined with the anti-racism message 'Say no to racism' is displayed from the time of the opening of the stadium until shortly before kick-off. Furthermore, all 736 players and all delegation members of the 32 teams signed a declaration for fair play and against betting, racism and discrimination.
In addition, the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee have joined forces to generate a positive atmosphere during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, aimed at people of all origins, religions, nationalities and skin colour. "I am convinced that our alliance with FARE is a further keystone in our fight against shameful racist behaviour. I have been told that FARE's monitoring network so far in and around the football stadiums has not witnessed any major incidents. This is proof that we are on the right track," said Blatter. "But, we need every fan of the beautiful game to do their part. We are all ambassadors for football and together, now that we have developed the game and touched the world, it is time to use football to build a better future."