The Poland-Ukraine World Cup qualifying game at the National Stadium in Warsaw provided an opportunity for both nations to celebrate the legacy of Euro 2012 through anti-racism and pro-diversity activities organized by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association.
Thousands of fans and hundreds of journalists received Polish and Ukrainian-language leaflets with information about anti-racist activities run by ‘NEVER AGAIN’ and the FARE network. An anti-discrimination manifesto was read out on the stadium tannoy shortly before kick-off and a video reminding of the Euro 2012 ‘Respect Diversity’ message was shown on the big screens in front of the 55,000 audience.
Two FARE monitors were present at the game and their work resulted in a removal of an offensive ‘White Power’ banner displayed by a group of Ukrainian far-right fans.
The match-day activities crowned a whole week of anti-racism events which preceded the game. For example, on 18 March an open pre-match training session of the Polish national team took place at the Polonia Warsaw stadium, held under the slogan ‘Let’s kick racism out of the stadiums’. A highly visible campaign message was displayed next to the pitch and all the fans – including many school kids – were handed anti-racism materials. The action was organized in cooperation with the new Fan Club of the Polish National Team.
On the eve of the game, 21 March – the UN International Day Against Racism – a presentation of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ and FARE activities was conducted for a group of visiting Ukrainian educators and head-teachers from Kiev, Kharkov and Kamenets. The session was held at the European Youth Meeting House in Warsaw in frames of the project ‘Education for Democratic Citizenship: Polish-Ukrainian Educational Initiatives’, a follow-up to ‘Young People – European Citizens, Local Activists, Partners – Before, During and After Euro 2012’. These long-term exchange projects initiated by the City of Warsaw and the local authorities of Kiev have been regularly assisted by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association through presentations and campaign materials.
Numerous other events, including multi-ethnic football games, discussions, concerts and media broadcasts around the International Day Against Racism took place with the involvement of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. On 20 March, ‘NEVER AGAIN’ presented its activities in the Polish Parliament, at the special invitation of the Parliamentary Committee on National and Ethnic Minorities.
-‘I salute your work and assure you of our whole-hearted support’ – said Miron Sycz MP, the Committee chairman and a member of the Council of the Union of Ukrainians in Poland.
The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an anti-racist educational and monitoring organization established in Poland in 1996. In 2009, in cooperation with UEFA and the FARE network ‘NEVER AGAIN’ set up the East Europe Monitoring Centre documenting racism and xenophobia across the region. In 2012, it implemented the ‘Respect Diversity – Football Unites’ social responsibility project accompanying the European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine.