FOOTBALL

IS OPEN TO EVERYONE

The UEFA #EqualGame campaign champions diversity, inclusion and accessibility in football

UEFA’s #EqualGame Respect campaign promoting diversity, inclusion and accessibility in football is continuing to increase public awareness of the ways in which football can be played and enjoyed, and underlines football’s capacity as a powerful unifying social force. 

Launched in August 2017, the campaign has brought a fresh and invigorating flavour to UEFA’s drive for diversity, inclusion and accessibility in football. The campaign is uniting football’s stellar names and grassroots players as it strives to put across the clear message that the game is open to all – irrespective of, for example, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation and religious beliefs. 

#EqualGame has broadened the spectrum of UEFA’s long-standing overall Respect activities, which have promoted areas such as peace and reconciliation, football for all, and the fight against discrimination, racism and violence. The campaign has successfully made its mark in promoting the key ethos that football is a game that should be absolutely equal for all – removing any barrier that might prevent people from joining and enjoying the sport. 

The campaign has come to life through video productions, the written word and photos across UEFA’s communication channels. A dedicated campaign website contains a wealth of content, also available through UEFA.com, and different social media platforms are bringing the campaign into sharp focus in a modern, contemporary fashion. UEFA’s official magazine UEFA Direct has featured stories on the fantastic people throughout the continent who make football what it is. A bespoke TV spot broadcast around UEFA’s major competitions is also giving broad exposure to the #EqualGame message.

#EqualGame has brought forth compelling and inspiring stories about grassroots stars who represent the soul of football, while a number of key events, such as the club competition finals and the Fare network’s #FootballPeople action weeks each October, provide high-profile focal points. 

In addition, UEFA has launched an annual #EqualGame award. The award aims to recognise a player who has acted as a role model in promoting diversity, inclusion and accessibility in European football. 

#EqualGame is about people – it is giving football lovers across Europe the opportunity to express just what the game means to them. UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin is crystal clear in emphasising #EqualGame’s crucial vision: “It is vitally important that UEFA makes football accessible for everyone,” he says, “and, through the power of sport, becomes a global leader to fight for social equality.”

TOTAL FOOTBALL, TOTAL ACCESS

UEFA and CAFE have worked closely together since 2009 to ensure UEFA’s tournaments and finals are inclusive and welcoming for all. There are over 1bn disabled people living today – the world’s largest minority group. UEFA and CAFE are committed to making live football accessible – we call it Total Football #TotalAccess. 

For the 2019 UEFA Europa League final, audio-descriptive commentary is being provided in Azerbaijani and English, giving many partially sighted and blind fans the opportunity to enjoy the match alongside their fellow fans. 

CAFE invites disabled fans to share images and feedback on stadiums that they have visited via the CAFE website. Visit www.cafefootball.eu and select ‘Stadiums’ from the menu to find ‘Baku Olympic Stadium’ or ‘Baku 2019’ and HAVE YOUR SAY on your experiences. 

You can also contact CAFE by emailing info@cafefootball.eu, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter @cafefootball.

FINAL FIRST FOR VAR

The video assistant referee (VAR) system will be used at the UEFA Europa League final. The system, which has already been introduced in the UEFA Champions League from this season’s knockout stage, is designed to help referees take correct decisions.

The VAR system, incorporated into the Laws of the Game last year, sees a video assistant referee review decisions made by the referee in certain key match situations with the use of video footage and a headset for communication.

The VAR team for the final in Baku will comprise a video assistant referee, two assistant video assistant referees and an offside video assistant referee, to support the match referee.

The team constantly checks for clear and obvious errors related to the following four match-changing situations: goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity. 

The VAR team will check all match-changing situations, but will only intervene for clear and obvious mistakes. The referee can hold up play while a decision is being reviewed.

If the VAR review provides clear evidence for a serious mistake in one of the game-changing situations, the VAR can then ask the referee to conduct an on-field review (by viewing replay footage in the review area). The final decision can only be taken by the referee.

The VAR is also able to take into account any infringement that could have taken place in the attacking phase of play in the immediate build-up to the incident.

PRIDE OF PLACE

FedEx Express and the UEFA Foundation for Children are giving 22 Azeri girls the opportunity to be mascots for tonight’s final

When the two teams take to the pitch for tonight’s UEFA Europa League final, they will be accompanied by 22 aspiring Azeri female footballers. The initiative, run in conjunction with FedEx Express and the UEFA Foundation for Children, highlights the work of the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) in developing women’s football. It also offers these girls, all of whom are enrolled in football youth programmes, a unique opportunity to get a taste of the game at the highest level.

“Football offers many opportunities for social integration and positive wellbeing that benefit children, whatever their gender,” said AFFA general secretary Elkhan Mammadov. “For many of the girls engaged in our programmes, playing football helps to break down barriers by offering inclusion and equality. Choosing these young girls as player mascots for the UEFA Europa League final makes them visible, on an international stage, and I think the sense of pride will be almost palpable.”

Hosting the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup provided an impetus to encourage young girls to take up the sport, and AFFA now runs programmes in 35 schools, with children involved in football activities three times a week. The organisation’s grassroots department also runs several initiatives that promote participation among young girls. 

Since becoming competition sponsor in 2015, FedEx Express has provided support across a host of UEFA Foundation for Children projects, including donating player mascot places to youth organisations in the UEFA Europa League final host cities.

“We’ve worked closely with the UEFA Foundation for Children to shape a long-term collaboration that maximises possibilities for young people through football,” said Brenda McWilliams-Piatek, VP Marketing Operations, FedEx Express Europe. “As sponsor of the UEFA Europa League, we are delighted to be able to extend support for the work of the Foundation, and of AFFA, by helping to make an all-girl player mascot group a possibility in Baku.” 

UEFA Foundation for Children general secretary Urs Kluser added: “Together with FedEx Express, we have delivered multiple projects that – under the umbrella of children’s rights – use football as a powerful tool in improving the lives of children. By donating player mascot places to organisations like AFFA, we are offering them a platform to showcase the tremendous headway they are making engaging young girls in football in Azerbaijan.”

Since it was formed in 2015, the UEFA Foundation for Children has run 180 projects in 94 countries around the world, supporting over 800,000 young adults and children in the process. 

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