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The anti-racist East Europe Monitoring Centre starts its operation in Warsaw this month. The newly launched centre will monitor, research and document cases of racism across the region, including EURO 2012 hosts Poland and Ukraine.

 

'The growing social significance of football in Poland and Ukraine before 2012 provides an excellent opportunity to highlight the pressing issues of xenophobia and racism in Eastern Europe', said sociologist Dr Rafal Pankowski, the Monitoring Centre coordinator. 'Our starting point is racism in football, but we see it in a more general context of discrimination in broader society', adds assistant coordinator Jacek Purski.

 

The Centre is a part of the three-year FARE Eastern European Development Project, funded by UEFA in the run up to EURO 2012. The project funding involves, among other things, EURO 2008 public viewing licensing fee income. Support is also being given by the players’ body FIFPro who, together with UEFA and the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, organized the Unite Against Racism conference hosted by the Polish Football Association in Warsaw last March.

 

The project's core objectives are to support the preparation of the tournament and anti-discriminatory activities through training programmes, lobbying activities and partnerships with governing bodies, local organising committees and host cities.

 

Other aims are to work alongside ethnic minority communities to challenge discrimination, and increase the profile of FARE and the Unite Against Racism programme and its ethos in Eastern Europe. The ultimate objective is to build a resource and campaigning base to support long-term anti-discrimination activities in football in Eastern Europe.

 

The project will also have a wider country base with a strong focus on Hungary and Slovakia. Monitoring will take place in several other states - Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus and Moldova – and potential awareness-raising activities are being explored.