The FIFA Football World Cup will kick off on 14 June. The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has participated in several events preceding the big event.
Co-founder of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association Rafal Pankowski was invited by the prestigious Cambridge Union debating society to speak at a debate on the forthcoming World Cup in Russia, including the challenges of racism and xenophobia, on 10 May.
– ‘Should we boycott the World Cup in Russia?’ – asked the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ representative during the Cambridge debate. – ‘It would be a better idea to use the opportunity to promote intercultural dialogue and peace, to empower Russian civil society, the progressive fan movement and human rights groups, especially the ethnic minorities, before, during, and after the tournament. Much more should be done in this field.’
Dr Pankowski was the coordinator of the Respect Diversity – Football Unites campaign in Poland and Ukraine during UEFA Euro 2012. He has participated in the consultations on racism and xenophobia in preparation for the World Cup in Russia, organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
ln the run up to the tournament, the work of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ in counteracting the scourge of racism in East European football was also showcased at the international workshop on ‘Rethinking Radicalisation: Frontline Perspectives’ held at the Centre for Youth Studies, Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg (Russia) under the auspices of the European-wide research project Dialogue About Radicalization and Equality (DARE) on 22-25 May 2018. The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association’s presentation was entitled ‘The potential of sports events in tackling racism and xenophobia: Experiences of the Respect Diversity – Football Unites programme’.
Also in the run-up to the World Cup, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has been a partner of the Polish Film Festival in Russia. More than 100 films are shown, including a special section devoted to the social aspects of football such as Kasia Adamik’s acclaimed ‘The Offsiders’ about the Homeless World Cup.
The Festival features meetings, film workshops, concerts and exhibitions. It started in Moscow on 17-24 May. After that it sets out on a trail into the Russian interior and will visit cities such as Yekaterinburg, Barnaul, Novorosiysk, Tver, Rostov on Don, Krasnodar, Orenburg, Nizhny Novogrod, Great Novogrod, Great Wielkim, Torżhok, Petrozavodsk, Visokovsk and Biysk.
Since 1996, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has conducted the first anti-racism campaign in Eastern European football, ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of the Stadiums’ and is a founding member of the Fare network.