Last week, the UEFA Foundation for Children hosted a ground-breaking conference, “TACKLE Racism in Grassroots Football”, with the objective of combating racism, discrimination, and intolerance within the sport.
Embracing a three-year journey supported by the EU Erasmus+ programme, the UEFA Foundation for Children warmly welcomed the TACKLE conference at UEFA in Nyon. The event aimed to champion inclusivity and tackle racism in non-professional football. By specifically focusing on coaches and managers in grassroots football clubs, the project effectively raises awareness, fosters competence, and develops strategies to eradicate racism from the beautiful game. With a comprehensive approach at its core, this inspiring initiative aspires to create a lasting impact on players, grassroots football, and the wider sporting community.
Clarence Seedorf, board member of the UEFA Foundation for Children:
“Promoting inclusion in football is to be placed at the top of the priority list of big organisations. This is the start of the fundamental change; it means acknowledging where we are today and what we want to achieve. Actions and implementations will be much easier”.
Urs Kluser, general secretary of the UEFA Foundation for Children:
“It was important for the Foundation to be part of this project in collaboration with the European Commission. We all know about discrimination and the existence of abuses in football. It is great to be able to rely on scientifical research to come up with responses in promoting inclusion in our beautiful sport”.
The project uses a comprehensive multidimensional approach based on five axes:
1. Enhancing awareness and competences
One of the core objectives of the TACKLE initiative is to empower football coaches and managers operating in grassroots football to proactively manage and prevent racism, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance. By providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills, the project aims to equip these individuals with the tools to effectively address and eradicate racist behaviours within their clubs. Through workshops, seminars, and interactive training sessions, participants are able to enhance their awareness and competences in dealing with these critical issues.
2. Prevention and mitigation of racism incidents
The TACKLE project also recognises the importance of prevention and a proactive approach when it comes to anti-racism measures. To achieve this, extensive research was conducted to examine and analyse the current realities, challenges, and gaps related to the presence of racist behaviours and incidents. The findings were used to identify effective approaches and policies that could be implemented to address the issue at its core. By adopting a proactive stance, the project aims to create a safe and inclusive environment for all participants, promoting equal opportunities and fostering respect and understanding among diverse communities.
3. The TACKLE toolkit
The TACKLE toolkit consists of best practices to tackle racism specifically within the context of youth and amateur football. It serves as a guide for coaches, managers, and stakeholders, offering practical strategies and actionable steps to address and prevent racist incidents effectively. By promoting the widespread adoption of these best practices, the TACKLE project aims to create a collective effort to combat racism, fostering a more inclusive and harmonious grassroots football community.
4. E-Learning platform and curriculum
Providing information and resources to tackle racism and abuse is key. Therefore, an e-learning platform is available to all and provides instant access to the project’s full suite of materials and digital learning resources. Coaches, managers, and interested individuals can access the curriculum, which is specially designed to cater to the needs of grassroots football. Through interactive modules, quizzes, and multimedia content, learners can deepen their understanding of racism in football and acquire practical skills to tackle the issue effectively. The e-learning platform serves as a centralised space for information, promoting continuous learning and knowledge sharing among stakeholders.
5. Partnerships and cooperation
The TACKLE project’s impact extends beyond national borders through the organisation of multiple events in participating countries. These events bring together key stakeholders, including coaches, managers, football associations, and community leaders, to raise awareness about the severe impact of racism on players, grassroots football, and sports in general. By fostering dialogue, knowledge exchange, and collaboration, the TACKLE initiative aims to create a network of like-minded individuals and organisations dedicated to eradicating racism from football.
Led by the Centre for the Advancement of Research and Development in Educational Technology (CARDET), the project consortium includes NGO KMOP, the Irish Spectrum Research Centre, the FARE network, the University of Pitesti in Romania, Institute of Development in Cyprus, and the UEFA Foundation for Children. This collaboration ensures a multidisciplinary and holistic approach in addressing racism, discrimination, and intolerance in grassroots football.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission (Erasmus+ Project Number: 622561-EPP-1-2020-1-CY-SPO-SCP).