Problems of racism, and anti-Semitism in particular, are a part of every daylife in Eastern Europe to an extent no longer encountered in Western states.The racist abuse directed at England"s players in Bratislava was ahigh-profile case that brought the issue to the attention of theinternational football community. However, the problem of widespread racismin Eastern European football stadiums had existed long before and there hadbeen warnings about the scale of the phenomenon, not least through the FAREnetwork.

Under those difficult circumstances there is a room for improving thesituation. FARE is in a unique position to influence the situation inEastern Europe being able to use good experiences from Western Europeancountries as well as local anti-racist expertise and contacts in the region.The large number of events in the framework of the 2003 FARE Action Week isan encouraging sign.

The "Let"s Kick Racism Out Of The Stadiums" campaign of the Polish FAREmember "Never Again" Association promotes anti-racism at football groundsand aims to challenge racist attitudes prevalent amongst Polish fans.Activities include regular monitoring and reporting of incidences,production of two anti-racist magazines ("Stadion" and "Never Again"magazine) and the organizing of an annual anti-racist football tournament.The "Never Again" Association has succeeded at raising the awareness of thePolish FA and club officials to the issue of racist symbols displayed instadiums. An anti-racist manual has been produced jointly by "Never Again"and the Polish FA which provides guidance for club officials and gameobservers. In November 2003 "Never Again" gave a presentation at ahigh-profile conference on stadium security organized by the Polish FA. Theactivity of "Never Again" has been endorsed by, among others, EmanuelOlisadebe, Poland"s first black international.

It is hoped that anti-racist work in Polish football can be sustained andnew successful projects can be inspired and supported in other Central andEastern European countries, too.

Planned ActionAnti-racist initiatives in Eastern Europe are very much needed but there isoften little chance for them to obtain local funding. In October 2003 it wasdecided that the funds received by the FARE network from the MTV Free YourMind Award would be used to aid anti-racist football projects in thisregion.

The "Never Again" Association has been mandated to use the funds both forthe enhancement of its own activities in Poland and for the expansion of theFARE network and promotion of anti-racism in and through football in theregion. "Never Again" is well qualified for the task: it has highlycompetent activists and it has accumulated years of experience working atboth the national and the international level. It has also experienced beingactive in a hostile environment, coming a long way from the initial refusalto acknowledge the problem of racism by authorities and media alike, to thegradual acceptance of the need for anti-racist measures. "Never Again" has agood overview of existing anti-racist initiatives in the region, not leastthrough its close cooperation with UNITED for Intercultural Action, thelargest pan-European anti-racist network (Among others, "Never Again" hostedthe large-scale UNITED network conference in Poland in November 2003, withabout 70 anti-racist groups from all over Europe being represented, many ofthem from Central and Eastern European states). It is hoped UNITED willassist in the implementation of this project.

The "Never Again" Association will serve as a contact point for thedevelopment of anti-racist football initiatives in Eastern Europe with aspecial emphasis on Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia,and Moldova. In each of these countries a study visit is to be conductedwith the aim to present and share the experiences of "Never Again" and FAREin combating racism in and through football, to encourage the development oflocal football-related anti-racist initiatives and to identify possiblepartners for long-term cooperation with FARE.

Throughout the duration of the project, the "Never Again" Association willprovide assistance to organizations in the region in terms of guidance,advice, inspiration, and material to be used in local activities.

The existing activities in Poland will also be strengthened with an officeand paid staff. In addition, an Eastern European Project Pool will beestablished for the support of local initiatives (up to 400 Euro). It willoperate on the model of the already existing FARE Small Scale Project Pool,using the same criteria for the support of projects, taking intoconsideration the specific local situations where appropriate. Two deadlinesfor small scale project proposals will be announced (1 September 2004 and 1January 2005). "Never Again" will advise and evaluate each project proposal,whilst the "Fair Play" in Vienna will administer the funds.

It is expected the project will result in a growing number of initiativesfrom Central and Eastern Europe taking part in FARE activities and inraising awareness of the problem of racism in football and in society ingeneral. Project coordinators Rafal Pankowski, Marcin Kornak
Assistant: Jacek Purski
Project duration 21 March 2004
Results and conclusions for future work are going to bepresented at the next FARE network conference in Bratislava in April 2005.