2022 fairplay celebrates 25 years! How it all began:
When the campaign "fairplay. Many colors. A game" (now the "fairplay initiative") was launched at the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) in 1997 in the European Year Against Racism, fans and players like Romelu Lukaku and David Alaba were critical in the minority.
Monkey sounds, so-called “monkey chants”, against black players, separate booths for “gypsy children” and open right-wing extremist symbols in the stadiums were part of everyday football. Football officials who tried to pass on responsibility argued that discrimination in football is a social problem that is brought into football and that football is merely a victim. The spectrum of attacks ranges from discriminatory behavior towards “foreign”, often black, players in the stadium to the structural exclusion of migrant people among the officials and fans. Added to this are the manifold attacks and discrimination in amateur and hobby sports, which in Austria are directed primarily against the Turkish and ex-Yugoslav communities or the discriminatory conditions within the teams themselves. These forms of discrimination have resulted in the increased involvement of Eastern Europe and Africa, Latin America and Asia got an additional drive in the global football market from the 1980s onwards.
But not only racism is a problem in football. Largely unnoticed, often hushed up, but present everywhere, are sexism and homophobia. Football is largely considered a men's sport. Women and girls who are addicted to the passion for the round leather often have to struggle with ridicule, aggression and social disregard, as well as a lack of financial and non-material support from associations, clubs, sponsors, the media and the public. In football, homosexuality is perceived as a flaw, as a point of attack against opposing fans, the team or individual players. Women and girls who play soccer are generally denounced as lesbians. Open and hidden homophobia can be seen in numerous chants as well as through the common choice of words and opinions in the media and in the squares and stands.
But times have changed! In Austria, as in many other European countries, racism and discrimination in football are no longer dismissed as petty offenses. fairplay at the VIDC has developed into a recognized Austria-wide initiative for anti-discrimination and diversity in sport. Together with fans, players, clubs and associations, we use the integrative power of football to fight against all forms of discrimination in the stadium.
The fairplay initiative succeeded in building sustainable partnerships with all relevant players in football on a national and international level. This international anchoring and networking in the field of sport is an important basis for successful work in the future.
In addition to the establishment of a service point for anti-discrimination and diversity, fairplay was supported by the Ministry of Sports from 2012 in setting up a coordination point for socially preventive fan work (Projekt "pro supporters") in Austria. Sport and social inclusion of migrants, educational work with young people as well as girls and women’s football have been added as new fields of work.
The fairplay initiative now consists of the three working areas "Anti-discrimination", "Sports & Social Inclusion" and "Sports, Development and Human Rights".
The chronological history of the fairplay initiative can also be read here.