The lack of involvement of the EU sport sector in the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 is a missed opportunity, argues the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA).
The president of ISCA, Mogens Kirkeby, said that sport is the most grassroot and widespread civil society sector with “operational structures locally, nationally and internationally and with more that 70 million Europeans directly involved”. If the goal of this European Year is to make 2008 a grassroots-oriented campaign year, it would be “an unfortunate missed opportunity” not to highlight the contribution of sport more”, he added.
Kirkeby’s frustration stems from the observation that none of the seven pan-European flagship projectsexternal selected to spread the messages of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogueexternal during 2008 has a starting point in the sport sector.
He also notes that a recent Eurobarometer surveyPdf external shows that almost three in four EU citizens view sport as a means of promoting integration and two thirds of them perceive sport as a means of fighting discrimination.
UEFA president and former French football star Michel Platini, addressing the Council of Europe (CoE) last week, said that “grassroots sport is an extraordinary catalyst for ethnic intermixing and integration. Football in particular is a welcoming, protecting and integrating sport.” However, he also added that “sadly, racism and xenophobia remain part of our society, and sport can be affected just like any other social phenomenon.”
The Commission is about to publish a study on “Sharing Diversity – National approaches to Intercultural Dialogue”, which will also consider sport’s role in this regard.
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