By Alexander Elverlund
Piara Powar, Director of FARE Network, UK
The first speaker of the workshop focusing on cities’ roles in encouraging social inclusion through sport and physical activity, Piara Powar, talked about ways in which minorities relate to sport. FARE is not only working with racism but also barriers related to gender and sexuality. In this session he primarily addressed ethnic minorities, stating that less than 10 % of the EU population consists of ethnic minorities. These minorities are based in cities, which is a monetary trend; when people get wealthier they move out in the suburbs.
“Most football clubs in big cities – and not only in the UK – are mainly in working class districts. An example is West Ham stadium in East London. It was once an ethnic British area, but most of the former inhabitants have moved out to suburbs like Essex, leaving East London mostly to ethnic minorities. When matches are played at Upton Park today thousands commute from the suburbs back to the area where their parents or grandparents grew up to support the club their family has been supporting for generations. It creates tensions when these football fans identify themselves with the club. When they come back to East London they clash with the ‘new’ local inhabitants because of cultural differences, for example,” Powar explained.
Kris Hermans, Coordinator at De Rode Antraciet vzw
Kris Hermans also presented some facts in the beginning of his presentation: There are approximately 1 million prisoners in Europe. About 98 % of them return to society and that’s why he believes the public has to open up and integrate them more than they do at the moment. One way to do this is through sport and physical activity:
“We are looking at possibilities for the society to involve in the integration of prisoners. For example clubs or federations can actively approach prisons and come inside to play a game or do other sports with the prisoners. And it is not only up to these organisations. Cities and municipalities should also stimulate and work together with them. We have seen open prisons where prisoners have been invited to use a golf course next to the prison and cities that have made a great effort to include prisons and prisoners in the local area, such as. a marathon where a small part of the route goes through the prison courtyard,” Hermans said.
Klaus Heusslein, European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation, Germany/Italy
Klaus Heusslein listed statistics for both the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Association and EuroGames. The EGLSF was founded in 1989 and now has more than 100 membership organisations. It is the organisation behind EuroGames that had more than 5,500 athletes in the 2004 edition. Compared to the 2012 London Olympics’ 10,500 athletes, EuroGames is a huge event given that it is ‘only’ a pan-European event and not a global one like the Olympics.
“Why should a city host an event like EuroGames? First of all it is a chance for the public to meet and learn about LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender]. Secondly it generates good income for the hosting cities from lots of euro spent on hotels, food and related areas. Lastly, participants and spectators tell friends and relatives about the great experiences in the city they visited, making them potential tourists. So it’s a win/win/win, you might say,” Heusslein concluded and stressed that discrimination is a result of lack of information and fighting it is everybody’s task!