The pan-European ‘Respect Diversity’ conference that took place on 10 and 11 September was one of the biggest of its kind in Europe, with over 250 people gathering in Rome.

The conference organised by UEFA, with the support of the Fare network and FIFPro, the world player’s union, and hosted by the Italian Football Federation, brought together football associations, European leagues, clubs, governmental organisations and NGOs from the Fare network.

Platform to share ideas

UEFA President Michel Platini opened the conference with a keynote speech, in which he set out the approach to issues of discrimination now taken by UEFA.

The conference provided a platform for participants to share good practice on combating discrimination in different settings and across geographies and served as a sounding board for practical solutions addressing the issue in the future.

Six workshops took place on the second day on a series of themes that include an overview of the sanctions regime in football, tackling homophobia, working with ethnic minorities, overcoming glass ceilings, discrimination in Southern Europe and how FAs can develop action plans.

The second day of the conference consisted of a players’ panel discussion with a line-up of top current and former and current professional footballers.

Fare delegates

Fare delegates came together for a pre-meeting on the morning of the conference to talk through activities and plan future action, such as the Football People action weeks.

Around 70 people from 28 countries formed the Fare delegation to the event. The attendees will take part in the conference debates and speak in workshops.

“Sport must embrace everyone”

Speaking ahead of the event, Michel Platini said: “Sport must embrace everyone, regardless of colour, faith, sexual orientation or political beliefs. I hope this conference, which we are organising with our partners, will encourage football leaders, coaches, players and fans to work together to stop all forms of discrimination.”

Piara Powar, Executive Director of the Fare network, said: “We are delighted to be working with UEFA on the 2014 Respect Diversity conference. The event brings together UEFA’s 54 member associations and the Fare network to collectively examine the challenges facing us in regards to discrimination and exclusion and to set out best practices. It will influence many associations and NGOs in their future work to ensure we have a sport that has equality and inclusion as a core practice.”

Tony Higgins, FIFPro Division Europe vice-president, said: “FIFPro is very happy to bring the voice of players into the discussion at the Respect Diversity conference. Professional footballers worldwide are in a unique position to help educate and inspire society to accept diversity and respect all cultures.”

CAFE’s Managing Director, Joyce Cook and Liz Chick, European Executive Officer attended the conference.

Published 10/09/2014