Sport must lead by example in combating racism

Sport should lead by example in combating racism, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Equality Committee has said.

In a declaration to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21st March), the Committee said “no form of racism can be tolerated and that sport, bringing together people of various ethnic, cultural and religious origins, should lead by example in combating this plight.”

The Committee observed that “sport is a mirror of our societies and their contradictions,” and can at the same time “promote positive values, such as social cohesion, integration and education.”

Sport, however, “can also be at times a vector of violence, discrimination and racism,” the Committee said. “In the past few years, the number of physical and verbal assaults by supporters or players has increased. In 2012, athletes were asked to leave the London Olympic Games following their racist remarks towards other competitors. Incidents of a racist nature are reported in the media and debated in society, but are not systematically prosecuted.”

Recalling the European Sport Charter and its Guidelines on the development of sport policies, the Committee asked “sport leaders and athletes themselves, as well as public authorities, to firmly condemn any discourse or act of a racist nature, and to promote respect, tolerance and solidarity as fundamental values.”

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