After weeks of preparation, Stamford Bridge will host the Unite Against Racism conference on Wednesday.
Pioneered by UEFA and FARE (pan-European Football Against Racism) this multinational event will attempt to tackle some the issue of racism in European football, by gathering together representatives from Europe’s leading football clubs, supporters organisations and anti-racism organisations.
UEFA hopes that such a collection of associations will breed a forum for positive action and international cooperation.
The aim of the conference are clear, even if the solutions may be complex: to stamp out any form of racism from football.
UEFA have the advantage of being able to build on strategies already set in place by previous cooperation and meetings with FARE and the English Football Association. That means that the conference will be used primarily to outline and identify specific problems caused by racism and advance the current strategies accordingly.
All 52 member associations of UEFA will be represented as well as delegates from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Leeds United, Lazio, Parma, Galatasaray, Rangers and PSV Eindhoven.
Football personalities such as French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly, former players Paul Elliot and Garth Crooks will also be on hand to represent anti-racist organisations and offer advice.
Also present, from the English FA, will be David Davies and David Dein, of Arsenal.
Chairman of the “Kick it Out” organisation, Lord Herman Ouseley, will assist by co-chairing the conference.
It has already been stipulated, by UEFA that the conference will not consist of idle theory and rhetoric but will instead be looking to implement a support network for football associations looking to tackle racism. Such initiatives may include a punitive system, which could involve penalties such as large fines, games played behind closed doors as well as stadium bans.
UEFA Chief Executive Gerard Aigner summed up the motivation behind the conference and UEFA’s view on racism by stating’ “We are not willing toaccept the presence of this way of thinking in our game.”