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Belgian football launches campaign to tackle racism and discrimination
Belgian football federations and the Pro League have each released a short video to raise awareness about racism and discrimination in Belgian football, reports Bruzz.
The message is simple: if anyone has experienced or been affected by a discriminatory incident, they are encouraged to speak up and not remain silent.
The latest campaign is a joint action by the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), Association des Clubs Francophones de Football (ACFF) and Voetbal Vlanderen, as well as the Pro League.
It comes two years after the launch of the ‘Come Together’ action plan, which promotes inclusivity on the pitch.
The 30 second video depicts a young boy getting a tattoo of a derogatory slur on his left cheek. The video explains that any type of discrimination leaves a permanent mark, just like the tattoo. It affects that person’s entire life, and is especially damaging for a child.
“We want to hold a mirror up to people,” said RBFA’s inclusion manager Sania Ahrouch. “Discrimination continues to happen several times a week on Belgian football pitches. Only by reporting each incident, condemning it en-masse and then taking the necessary action, can we put a stop to discrimination in Belgian football,” she added.
According to research by RBFA and KU Leuven, 37% of young footballers have experienced discrimination in the past two years. Unfortunately, it also reveals that half of all young girls in Belgian football are also victims.
In 2022, there were 590 reports of cases on football pitches, compared to 237 reports in 2021. As many cases are unreported, the real figure is expected to be far higher.
On 15 March, RBFA is organising a ‘Because We Are’ conference as part of the ‘Come Together’ campaign. Three victims will share their personal experience of discrimination with Faris Haroun as moderator and Pierre Kompany as keynote speaker. The conference will kick off a year of awareness-raising in the country and in the sport.