SchweryCade was privileged to be invited to attend the #EqualGame conference last week in London, organised jointly by UEFA, the English Football Association and the Fare network.
Also in attendance were general secretaries and presidents from a large majority of UEFA member associations, NGOs and experts – many of them part of the Fare network – a host of current and former players, coaches, referees and others from the Game, as well as journalists and reporters. Among these were Greg Clarke (English FA Chairman) and Aleksander Čeferin (UEFA President), both of whom gave strong keynote speeches.
It was Čeferin that set the scene in his opening speech, giving a blunt testimony to the scale of the problem: “I am ashamed that in 2019 we have to organise a conference to combat discrimination and intolerance in football. We must dare to change. I am ashamed that here in Europe not a weekend goes by without a discriminatory act taking place in a football stadium, at amateur level or professional level.”
The starting point for all discussions was the acknowledgment that the issue originates in society, but that Football has a responsibility to address its manifestations in the Game thus contributing to the fight for equality and inclusion in general.
The conference had its highlights, among them a captivating production of Offside, by the Futures Theatre group; a keynote speech about what it means to be a woman in football by Honey Thalijeh; and an intro to sport and human Rights from Mary Harvey, CEO of the newly established Centre for Sport and Human Rights.