United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Joint Message from Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, and Joan Laporta, President of FC Barcelona, on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - 21 March 2008

In view of the racist incidents recently witnessed in the course of various football championships, UNESCO and the FC Barcelona wish to speak together on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and to condemn vigorously the expression of racist ideas and racist acts during football matches.

The only reaction such behaviour deserves is indignation, and we know that ours is shared by the great majority of football fans and sports lovers in general.

Racism in stadiums is unfortunately not limited to isolated cases. The frequency of such incidents indicates much deeper roots, demanding an effort at an earlier stage to better oppose the power of prejudice. The response of the law must imperatively be accompanied by social and educational measures, aiming to promote a genuine culture of tolerance and human rights.

Thus, more than ever, sports and physical education will be able to provide the appropriate context for pursuing and enriching a sustainable dialogue between cultures, particularly among young people.

This certainty prompted the partnership founded between UNESCO and the FC Barcelona on 23 November 2007. Signing the accord sealed our determination and our commitment to put the experience, knowledge and expertise of our two institutions at the service of the fight to eliminate racism and racial discrimination.

Football, and sport in general, must bring people together, not divide them. It is time to demonstrate actively our support for victims of racist remarks. It is time to undertake more rigorous action to save the very soul of sport. It is time to “give racism a red penalty card.”

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO
Joan Laporta, President of FC Barcelona

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Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 036-2008 -  Publication Date: 18-03-2008

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