European football governing body UEFA in Monaco launched #EqualGame, a new UEFA RESPECT social responsibility campaign that will positively promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility in football throughout Europe.
Some of world football’s biggest stars, including Ada Hegerberg, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba, are leading the #EqualGame campaign, which is in line with UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin’s vision of increasing inclusion and accessibility across the European game.
As a digital and social media campaign involving global football stars, local grassroots players and fans, #EqualGame will generate positive public awareness of all the different ways people can play and enjoy football – including, for example, walking football for older players, grassroots women’s football and football for people with physical impairments. The campaign can be accessed online via www.equalgame.com.
Lionel Messi, the FC Barcelona and Argentina forward, believes football has the power to break down barriers and he is giving his support to #EqualGame, “During the course of my career, our beloved sport has taught me many things, but above all it’s shown me that football really is a universal game that is accessible to all, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.”
“The fact that football acts as a leveller in our society is a source of great pride to all of us involved in the game. Whilst everyone is different we’re all united by a common passion for a sport that truly belongs to each and every one of us.”
“I’m fully behind UEFA’s #EqualGame campaign because I believe in the immense power of the sport and its ability to change our outlook on the world.”
The central principle of #EqualGame is expressed as “Everyone has the right to enjoy football, no matter who you are, where you’re from or how you play.”
The new campaign therefore underlines UEFA’s mission to ensure that the game is open and accessible to all, and that there is respect for equality across ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical ability and social differences.
As such, #EqualGame will help re-affirm the belief that although people are individuals and play and love football differently, everyone is equal through a shared passion for the sport.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin believes European football’s governing body should be a social fair play organisation, meaning UEFA has a zero-tolerance stance on racism, sexism, homophobia or any form of discrimination, “It is vitally important that UEFA makes football accessible for everyone and, through the power of sport, becomes a global leader to fight for social equality.”
“The new #EqualGame initiative aims to help to bring the football community closer together and ensure that values such as inclusion, gender equality and the fight against discrimination continue to be at the forefront of UEFA’s vision and beliefs.”
Speaking at the launch of #EqualGame, Manchester United FC and France midfielder Paul Pogba said, “Football is my passion and there are many reasons why I love the game. People all over the world are different, but we all can find common ground in our love of football. This means football belongs to everyone, and we all should have the chance to play and enjoy it.”
“That’s why I’m supporting UEFA’s #EqualGame campaign – it’s a chance to show that no matter who you are, and wherever you’re from, there’s a way to get involved and enjoy football. If we can improve the diversity and access to football, the game will grow and be better for everyone. I think football can help bring communities together and show, on and off the pitch, we are all equal.”
A TV advertisement will be broadcast on television alongside and during UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches – commencing at the start of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League group stage on September 12. It will also be supported by a comprehensive, European-wide multi-media awareness programme.
Ada Hegerberg, Olympique Lyonnais and Norway forward, said, “Football is popular all over the world, and it plays such an important part in people’s lives. This means the game has the power to change attitudes and help communities achieve positive social change.”
“I’m backing UEFA’s #EqualGame campaign because I want everyone, and especially young girls, to believe football is for them and they have the right to play and enjoy the game. If we can increase diversity in the game and get more people playing, football will be stronger.”
#EqualGame is also supported by the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, an umbrella organisation that brings together individuals, informal groups and organisations driven to combat inequality in football and use the sport as a means for social change.
Piara Powar, FARE network Executive Director, said, “By promoting inclusion and increasing awareness of all the types of football that exist, UEFA is spreading a positive message that football is for everyone, regardless of gender, race or religion.”