Focus: Campaign of the week - Kick It Out tackles racism in soccer

Indira Das-Gupta, indira.das-gupta@haynet.com

Kick It Out's national anti-racism week actually lasts 10 days and will see all 92 professional clubs in the UK hold an anti-racism day at a home game during the two weekends.

The 'week', now in its fifth year, takes place from 13 to 25 October and will comprise the biggest series of anti-racism activities ever staged across Europe. The European initiative has been co-ordinated by Football Against Racism in Europe, of which Kick It Out is a core member.

The primary aim of the week is to raise awareness of the fact that racism in football still exists, and Kick It Out recently published a report documenting the exclusion of Asian footballers.

Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out, said: "Less than 12 months ago England's black players were racially abused at the Bernabeu in Madrid in front of millions watching on TV. The response from the nation was a call for action. Given that these scenes were once commonplace in England, we felt this response was one to be proud of and signalled how initiatives such as the week of action are essential to underlining our opposition to racism and inequality."

Alison Vaughan, campaign manager at Kick It Out, said: "Although we know racism exists, it is hard to quantify specific incidents. The clubs that are proactive about the issue tend to find that their fans are more likely to report racist incidents - it doesn't mean they have more of a problem with racism."

But Kick It Out is keen to emphasise that it's not all doom and gloom.

"People tend to think this is all negative, but it's actually an opportunity to highlight areas where some really good work is going on," said Vaughan.

"Equally, the campaign is about celebrating the achievements of ethnic minority footballers and showing that football is a great way to bring people together."

Players at professional clubs will be warming up in special Kick It Out T-shirts and handing out badges. In addition, about 400 community groups that have registered to take part will receive free resource packs. Kick It Out awards grants of up to £1,000 to groups that want to put on bigger activities during the week, and this year has made money available for 34 projects.

Vaughan said: "One grant went to South Leeds School, which was attended by several of the London bombers and has huge issues to do with race.

Other grants have gone to groups organising tournaments that bring together communities that might normally have nothing to do with each other."

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