Fears that the 2018 World Cup in Russia might be spoiled by hate crimes, motivated by racism, homophobia and other prejudices, have prompted Fare network, an international organisation which tackles discrimination in sport, to initiate on-the-ground precautionary measures.
Fare says it has launched three initiatives to offer advice to “minority groups” and to celebrate diversity within football. These are the Fare Diversity Guide to Russia, a Diversity House project in Moscow and St. Petersburg during the period of the World Cup and a WhatsApp hotline to help support “visiting minorities” in Russia with issues of discrimination or those who may require other urgent help.
The initiatives follow the release of a new report on discrimination in Russian football during the 2017-18 season which found “deeply-rooted issues” of discrimination in Russian football.
Worries that the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be spoiled by hate crimes have mounted with signs of a relentless neo-Nazi and ultranationalist sub-cultures in the Russian football fan base. This has drawn fire towards FIFA from organisations that monitor the situation like the Johannesburg based ProBonoMatters and the London based Kick it Out.
Fare network executive director, Piara Powar, says “The World Cup in Russia poses challenges and even worries for those from ethnic minority, LGBT+ and other minority backgrounds. The Diversity Guide aims to give information, address concerns in a comprehensive manner and help fans understand what to expect if travelling to the World Cup.”
The Diversity Guide
The organisation said “the Fare Diversity Guide to Russia offers advice for minorities – particularly the LGBT+ community and visible ethnic minorities – travelling to Russia.” The guide is described as a comprehensive online resource combining general information and essential advice including historical context, Do’s and Don’ts, and an overview of what to expect in each of the 11 host cities.
The guide can be found at: www.diversityguide2018.com.
The Diversity Houses
Fare said it will be running a Diversity House project in Moscow and St. Petersburg during the period of the World Cup. “The concept is to offer a safe place to celebrate diversity and meet people using football to create awareness and change.”
Both Diversity Houses will feature a pioneers’ football exhibition, World Cup match viewings, discussions, meetings with Russian supporters and residents. The houses will be open to all Russians and visiting fans every day of the World Cup.
Powar said “The Diversity Houses in Moscow and St. Petersburg will act as safe spaces for supporters, residents and anyone else who wishes to come along, enjoy the festivities and celebrate the diversity a World Cup brings. The Whatsapp number is another support mechanism for fans, we will have a team of people ready to respond to queries.”
The WhatsApp hotline
Fare has also set up a WhatsApp hotline to help support “visiting minorities” in Russia with issues of discrimination or those who may require other urgent help. The line will be active throughout the 2018 World Cup duration 14 June – 15 July. The WhatsApp hotline number is + 7 916 948 11 08.
Powar says “We hope the spirit that brings people together at big sporting events will keep fans with provocative intentions out of the World Cup, and equality and understanding will be the prevalent story of Russia 2018.”