UEFA’s social responsibility programme at EURO unveiled.

At UEFA EURO 2012, away from the action on the field, where the stars and teams make the headlines, UEFA’s RESPECT campaign will be tackling some of Europe’s key social issues aiming to raise awareness and positively affect the lives of people in Poland and Ukraine. The RESPECT campaign, UEFA’s social responsibility initiative, was launched by the UEFA president at UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.

Speaking about the importance of the RESPECT campaign, Michel Platini said: “As the governing body of European football, UEFA has the responsibility to protect the game and its supporters. RESPECT at EURO highlights UEFA’s continuous commitment to combat any form of discrimination, increase access for fans with disabilities, promote health through physical activity and encourage intercultural dialogue between fans and the host cities”.

In the build-up to UEFA EURO 2012 and during the final tournament, UEFA is supporting four social projects with a financial contribution totalling up to EUR 3,000,000. The RESPECT campaign will be making its impact in Poland and Ukraine and beyond the host countries through various initiatives grouped under the four headings of RESPECT Diversity, RESPECT Fan Culture, RESPECT Inclusion and RESPECT your Health.

The RESPECT Diversity project will be implemented together with UEFA’s long-time partner the FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) and its network association Never Again. It will promote the positive message of diversity through various activities before and during the tournament, peaking at the semi-finals. Hundreds of inclusivity zones will be created at the tournament. These are public buildings and spaces that are designated as being open and accessible to all, regardless of ethnic or national background, gender, disability or sexual orientation. Also, to date, over 80,000 police officers and stewards in Poland and Ukraine have received anti-discrimination training to help them identify discriminatory chants, symbols and behaviour.

Meanwhile, the RESPECT Fan Culture project will support football fans during the final tournament of the UEFA European Football Championship. Together with Football Supporters Europe (FSE), fan embassies will be set up in the eight host cities to serve as places where fans can seek assistance with last-minute travel and accommodation arrangements as well as facilitation in unforeseen circumstances. Supporters of participating countries will also have their own mobile fan embassies that will move from stadium to stadium.

In addition, UEFA is working with CAFE (Centre for Access to Football in Europe) to manage three separate RESPECT Inclusion initiatives. Under the “Football with No Limits” initiative, access information will be provided to disabled fans and visitors by the means of a tailor-made guide. Through the “Showcase games” project run by Special Olympics in Poland and the National Sports Committee for Disabled People in Ukraine, disabled people will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their sports skills by competing in football matches before each quarter-final game. Funds for future inclusion initiatives will be raised through the UEFA EURO 2012 Tournament charity project, encouraging football supporters and other benefactors to donate money for upcoming projects, with UEFA paving the way by committing to donate €3,000 for each goal scored during the tournament.

Finally, the RESPECT your Health – Euroschools 2012 project promotes healthy lifestyles among children and their families, with a focus on smoking prevention, healthy diet, moderation in alcohol consumption, and encouraging physical activity. Coordinated by UEFA partner streetfootballworld, the programme trains schools, NGOs and local coaches to combine sport sessions with health education activities.  As part of the Respect your Health project, UEFA EURO 2012 has also been declared a tobacco-free event.

A version of this article is also available in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.

Published 08/11/2011