Handshakes and hugs, all-in celebrations, mesmerising tifos: there’s more harmony in football matches than casual observers might otherwise come to expect.Even opposing teams stand together. Hyundai A-League clubs are never more unified than in the annual #EraseRacism round. Football Federation Australia joins non-governmental organisation All Together Now each year to strive for equality, awareness and respect for our nation’s multiculturalism.
Today’s match also falls on the 15th anniversary of Harmony Day, which celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity. Harmony Day is held every year on 21 March to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Football might always be our focus but it’s through that lens we can learn.
Education is power in all facets of life and an understanding attitude helps combat racism. The University of Western Sydney, an official partner of the Wanderers, leads the way with its award-winning Every Day Racism app. The app has been developed in partnership with All Together Now and was voted runner-up at the 2014 Intercultural Innovation Awards.
The app gives people the chance to experience the kind of racial abuse often inflicted on minorities by challenging players to simulate a life in the week of an Aboriginal man, a Muslim woman or an Indian student and seeks to instil confidence in the best ways to respond.
UWS researchers say it’s crucial for people to send the message “racism is not okay.” Where people may be concerned their actions will lead to further abuse, the Every Day Racism app prepares people to take a stand. The developers are now working to expand the app by attending global training courses and joining the UN Intercultural Leaders platform.
Sport plays an important role. As prominent public groups, clubs have the ability to influence the discourse by communicating with their networks. Community coaches from Western Sydney Wanderers last year attended a workshop at UWS to learn strategies for combating racism. Having heard from researchers working on the Challenging Racism project – Australia’s largest study into ethnic relations and cultural diversity – the coaches are now better able to equip children at school football clinics with positive life skills.
Through education and a no-tolerance stance, the football community can play its part in erasing racism and promoting our proud multiculturalism.
Download the university of western Sydney’s every day racism app for iPhone or on Google Play.