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Friday 09 June

Главная News Impact of the FIFA World Cup 2018 on inter-ethnic relations and promoting diversity
Impact of the FIFA World Cup 2018 on inter-ethnic relations and promoting diversity
Written by Ашот Айрапетян   

IMG 4327Shortly before the final draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, International Network FARE and  the Center for Interethnic Cooperation implemented an international conference “Impact of the FIFA World Cup 2018 on inter-ethnic relations and promoting diversity” in Moscow on November 30, 2017. The conference was held in the hotel Holiday Inn Tagansky.


Opening of the conference and welcoming speeches

 Roman Naguchev, TV commentator of Russia's leading sports TV channel MATCH TV opened the conference and thanked the participants of the conference - representatives of non-governmental organizations, authorities, embassies of foreign countries and the media for participation in this event and noted the relevance of inter-ethnic and intercultural harmony and tolerance during the World Championship in Russia. Ashot Ayrapetyan, the director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation  in his welcoming speech noted that Russia is having rather complex relationships with a number of countries nowadays, thus, due to the 2018 World Cup, a large number of  representatives of these countries will visit Russia that would allow them to get to know Russians better, and Russians gain a unique opportunity to communicate with guests from different countries and continents. He highlighted that nether police nor the prosecutor's office can make Russian residents more tolerant. The citizens and non-governmental organizations should do this. They can both play an important role in the successful realization of the World Cup. The championship should become not only a football holiday, but also a holiday of friendship and mutual understanding. Piara Powar, executive director of the international network FARE, spoke about cases of racism at football stadiums, particularly in Russia and that this fact may play a negative role during the World Cup. He stressed out that it is necessary to exclude any discrimination during the games. Famous football player Alexei Smertin, an employee of the Department for Combating Discrimination of the Russian Football Union, said that football is not only fame, big fees and fans. It is a complex of everyday work with victories and defeats which are both full of injures. He noted that there are cases when the fans start provocation on purpose, trying with the help of insults and abuse to influence the opponent's players. Sometimes it brings the desired result. Tatyana Potyaeva, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the city of Moscow, gave examples of those rules that are accepted by the authorities of the capital in order to adequately meet visitors from other countries. Evgeny Varshaver, the head of the Migration and Ethnicity Research Group of the Russian Academy of Sciences presented his research on interethnic relations in Russia.


Panel I: The World Cup and ethnic communities in the host cities


 IMG 4366Shirvan Kerimov, the head of the League of Azerbaijanians of the Samara region reported that after the speech of nationalists on Manezhnaya Square on December 11, 2010 - ethnic communities in Samara organized a football tournament with the participation of representatives of ethnic minorities and local fans. This tournament aroused great interest among journalists and the public. Nowadays, this tournament is held regularly, every year. He also added that the participants of this tournament, the representatives of ethnic minorities, in a state of excitement pronounced very incorrect statements about the players - rivals, and he addressed with the request not to judge the fans very strictly, because, unfortunately, they cannot always control the emotions. Farukh Mirzoyev, chairman of the Association of Ethnic Unions of the Sverdlovsk region said that the 2018 FIFA World Cup aroused great interest in Yekaterinburg. There were cases of discrimination of representatives of non-Russian population in the city at different times. However, the active work of ethnic organizations and cooperation with authorities make it possible to keep the situation under control. Yael Joffe, the head of the Council of the Volgograd Jewish Community Center, talked about the idea of ​​organizing a match between the youth teams of Russia and Germany in their city as a sign of reconciliation. Valens Maniragena, head of the Ichumbi Humanitarian organization in St. Petersburg, said that racially motivated crimes are often committed against Africans. He was supported by the representatives of the Moscow Protestant community - immigrants from Africa. According to the information they shared during the conference they can neither study nor work, because they do not have relevant documents. However, the authorities are not in a hurry to issue such permissions. Ashot Ayrapetyan suggested that they come to the Ombudsman during the break and discuss the possible solutions.


Panel II: Legacy of the World Cup for minorities


  The second panel was opened by Pavel Klymenko, Fare Eastern Europe Development Officer. He highlighted that the World Cup is directly related to other groups of the population of Russia. Therefore, heads of non-governmental organizations representing the interests of these groups were invited to the conference. Elena Popova, a representative of the Center for Access to Football, spoke about the need to create opportunities for access of people with disabilities to the World Cup games. Alla Filina, a representative of the Women's Football School made a presentation about the growing popularity of women's football in Moscow, she also shared the information about the successful cooperation with FIFA and the Fare network. Alexander Agapov, the head of the LGBT Sport Federation in Russia, pointed out that tolerant attitude should not only be towards representatives of different nations who will come to the World Cup, but also to the people of other sexual orientations. He considers that it is useful to put the information about the local gay communities in reference books developed specially for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Open microphone

DSC 0010Pavel Klymenko opened the discussion after all the speeches. Rusalina Gaynatulina, a representative of the Assembly of Peoples of Tatarstan reminded about the Cup of the Confederation that was arranged in summer, 2017 in Kazan. She pointed out the high level of the games  organization and implementation assuring that football organizations and the population of the city are ready to host the Games of the World Championship. Shamil Sabitov, deputy mufti of the Central Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of the Republic of Mordovia, said that there are 160 different nationalities living in Mordovia, and there have never been any serious problems between them. Nur Al Khasiyev, a representative of the Yaroslavl Assembly of Peoples told about the organization of a football match between prisoners and police representatives  in a local colony and the impact of the match, highlighting that the relations between these two groups became  more tolerant. Oleg Dyachenko, a representative of  the Resource Center "Mosvolonter" of the Public Relations Committee of the Moscow Government told that they had already received five thousand applications from Muscovites to participate in the Championship as a volunteer. He also added that the selected volunteers would undergo special trainings devoted to the work with the guests of the World Championship.

The organizers of the conference gave an opportunity to speak to everyone. The discussion turned out to be very interesting and informative.

Both the leaders of ethnic organizations of the cities where the World Championship will be held and representatives of other NGOs were united by the same opinion that the games give a unique chance to improve tolerance both among the citizens of Russia and with the citizens of foreign countries who will come to the games in summer, 2018. It is important to lead the Championship in such a way that friendship and mutual understanding between people of different nations, countries and orientations continued after the end of the games. There was also a proposal to arrange such conferences in every city where the 2018 World Cup matches will take place.