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No diversity without representation

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No diversity without representation

UEFA held its Respect Diversity Conference on 10-11 September in Rome, Italy. Co-organised by FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe), the Italian Football Federation, and FIFPro (World Player’s Union) the fourth edition of the conference was opened by President Michel Platini. After his strong pledge for diversity the audience was surprised with an all-women panel discussion on equal representation in decision-making bodies.

The conference started with a very enthusiastic and engaging speech from UEFA President Michel Platini who re-affirmed UEFA’s commitment to tackling racism, sexism, homophobia and discrimination throughout the vast European football family of 54 UEFA member states.

Diversity is created in and through football by including all people in the game, irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation and making sure that no room is given to prejudice or discriminatory behaviour. President Platini outlined that education and positive encouragement for non-discriminatory behaviour goes hand-in-hand with sanctions for inacceptable racist or sexist behaviour. This dual approach is essential in order to make UEFA’s motto of RESPECT for everyone on and off the pitch a reality.

Platini concluded that the eradication of racism, sexism and homophobia is a journey that football has an obligation to contribute to, despite the fact that it is a human illness reflected throughout societies globally.

The conference also staged an all-women panel which made clear that real integration and diversity can only be created by increased representation of groups discriminated against in decision-making bodies. Women, people of different ethnicity and race, as well as lesbians and gays need to be represented in decision-making bodies to speak out for themselves and to drive policies for inclusion.

Without balanced representation there can never be genuine diversity in football. There is need for colourful individuals to act as “symbols of change” counterbalancing the white male dominated decision-making bodies and acting as role models for others who do not yet dare to claim the space for themselves and their peers.

Diversity is not to be feared, but should be embraced by the football family as an asset and as a reflection of daily reality.

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News

Author

Jutta Engelhardt

Published

Sunday, September 14, 2014 - 23:00

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