Wednesday, October 11, 2006

UEFA: Israel, Zidane

Has the Headbutt Seen 'Round the World forced soccer's governing bodies to clean up the tarnished image left by Zinedane Zidane? It's difficult to determine if this single event had a large effect, as many ambassadors of the game had already been working on positive outreach and anti-racist operations.

While the players (and FIFA) stressed the provocation was not racist in nature, this week UEFA will provide anti-racism activities as part of the widely followed UEFA Cup. UEFA is backing Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE). UEFA's President Lennart Johannson said the organization "appreciate[s] the opportunity to underline our unwavering commitment to eradicating racism in our game."

You can view the entire press release from UEFA about the activities here.

Meanwhile, UEFA is already seeing its fair share of controversy. On August 7, 2006, due to the underlying security issues in Israel, UEFA barred european teams from playing on Israeli soil. The ban lasted for roughly a month and was lifted on September 15, 2006, but UEFA stated the
"matches must be played in the region of Tel Aviv only, that security guarantees are required for every match, and that UEFA may re-impose a ban at any time if it considers there has been a deterioration in the security situation."
Israel's sports minister thought the ban stayed in place for too long, as the Hezbollah cease fire was established well before the ban was lifted.

Israel, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Armenia all are part of the Union of European Football Associations.

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