The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
"There is no place for racism and intolerance in sport… Sport is meant to foster social cohesion, bring different cultures together in a celebration of healthy competition, and to overcome the diffidence and even contempt that all too often divide countries and communities in the political and social arenas."
— UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay.
“Racism and sport” is the focus of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March 2013.
At a special event in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Office will highlight the issues raised by the persistent racism at sporting events.
Professional footballer, Kevin-Prince Boateng, from AC Milan and Patrick Vieira, ex-French international, currently an executive with Manchester City, senior officials from the Union of European Football Associations and the Federation of International Football Associations and other experts will share their views on racism in football.
Racism in sport, both by fans and competitors is an on going concern of the UN Human Rights Office. In September 2012, the Human Rights Council noted that, “Despite the immense potential of sport in promoting tolerance, racism in sport is still a serious problem.”
Referencing the Olympic spirit requiring “human understanding, tolerance, fair play and solidarity, the Council urged an intensified “fight against racism in sport.”
21 March is a day of great significance in the history of the struggle to end the policy of apartheid, which segregated people on the basis of race and which denied people of colour their basic human rights. In 1960, on that day, South African police opened fire on a peaceful protest killing 69 people and injuring many more.
The crowd had gathered outside the police station in the township of Sharpeville to protest South Africa’s pass laws, which restricted the movement of coloured people in white areas.
The Sharpeville massacre prompted the first resolution from the United Nations Security Council only days later calling on the government of South Africa to abandon apartheid and to instead “initiate measures aimed at bringing about racial harmony based on equality.” It also led to the adoption of UN General Assembly resolution 2142 (XXI), which proclaimed 21 March, the international day for the elimination of racial discrimination to be commemorated annually.
The event in Geneva 21 March will focus on football and the damage inflicted on the sport by racism but also its potential as a positive force to combat discrimination.
Read the statements delivered by participants at the panel discussion on "sport and racism" and by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the message issued by the UN Secretary General to mark International Day on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Use social media to speak up against racial discrimination! Join the conversation using #FightRacism and share your views and experiences with others.
Find much more, and very detailed information, on discrimination via these links on the website of the UN Human Rights Office.
Discrimination is a priority of the United Nations Human Rights Office: read our feature stories about this issue and the anti discrimination programmes of the Office.