Football across the divide
Published 7 June 2012
Shocking new evidence of entrenched racism and violence in Ukrainian and Polish football has cast a dark shadow over the 2012 European Championship which starts on June 8.
A recent BBC Panorama programme showed fans making Nazi salutes on the terraces, black players being taunted and a vicious assault on a group of Asian students.
Festival of Football in Eastbourne
However, a group of University of Brighton lecturers are convinced that football can unite divided communities and are doing just that through a project called Football 4 Peace. The project is bridging the divide by bringing Arab and Jewish children together in one of the world’s most conflict-ravaged regions.
One the largest sport and co-existence projects in the world, Football 4 Peace has been running for more than 12 years and involves value-based football coaching sessions and team building exercises supported by a range of lectures and cultural activities.
Currently Football 4 Peace operates in Israel, Jordan and cross border in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland and is successfully building bridges between fractured communities where political and ethno-religious divisions promote sectarian separation and conflict.
This summer sees the largest and most ambitious project to date. More than 50 university volunteer students will coach nearly 2,000 children from 24 Arab and Jewish communities in Israel.
One of the projects co-founders and deputy director, Dr Gary Stidder said: "While we are aware that racism still exists in football, I was absolutely appalled and disgusted to see the extent of the problem in the Ukraine and Poland and may be indicative of other countries particularly in Eastern Europe. With the FIFA world cup finals due to take place in Russia in 2018 there is ample time for the authorities to deal with the issues and use football 4 peace as a model of good practice”
“Through Football 4 Peace we are successfully helping young people to enjoy learning and playing football together in non-threatening settings with other children from different communities.”
More information including documentary films and photographs can be gained by visiting the football 4 peace website – www.football4peace.eu
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Contact: Marketing and Communications, University of Brighton, 01273 643022