Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Xenophobia in Sport

Xenophobia in Sport The Austrian national football team shows a "red card" to racism.

Racism in the stands of Austrian stadiums has been a rare phenomenon in recent years. Much of the credit for this goes to the program Sport against Racism in Austria (SAR AUSTRIA). It is an initiative of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Sports, the sports organization Bunde BSO and "Sports Day", born in 2012 with the aim of raising public awareness of a problem which is still relevant today. The aim of the project is to emphasize the positive role of sport, which brings people from all walks of life and cultures together through the involvement of celebrities and the media.

"We want to strengthen discriminating communities, influence people's perceptions and inspire millions of people around the world, as well as educate and inform about how important inclusion is for successful and problem-free living together!" reads the declaration of the project.

The project "Sport Against Racism Austria" aims to raise awareness and attention towards sporting events and unusual activities in Austria and all over the world. An important point is to fight against prejudices and clichés! The young generation has to learn to respect every culture and universal values," the declaration says. All people should be valued regardless of gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion or belief, disability, age or identity. It is important to adapt to the respective country and its culture, to accept and respect it, to adhere to certain rules, so that peaceful coexistence with each other is guaranteed for all of us and our children in the future. People of any nationality or race should not be seen as enemies, but should be treated with respect and understanding as a friend.

It's no secret that athletes are often idols to young people and role models! As part of the project "For Sports Against Racism Around the World in 365 Days," from November 2012 to December 2019, an extremely interesting series of lectures on "Sports Against Racism" was also given to a wide range of people along with famous athletes. This took place in schools and other event centers throughout Austria.

Despite an active anti-racism campaign in Austria, there were still xenophobic manifestations on sports grounds. Austrian footballer Marko Arnautovic, for example, provoked a scandal on June 13, 2021, when he decided to "celebrate" his goal against North Macedonia in the European Football Championship 2020 in Bucharest by shouting vulgar anti-Albanian slurs in Serbian at a member of the opposing team.

The target of the verbal attack was Ezjian Alioski, an ethnic Albanian who plays for British Premier League club Leeds United. He was not the one responding to the provocations. This was not Alioska's first encounter with anti-Albanian discrimination. In June 2019, his family was refused service at a restaurant in his hometown of Prilep for speaking Albanian. The restaurant staff later tried to apologize when they realized they had offended a member of the national soccer team. Ethnic Albanians make up about a quarter of Northern Macedonia's population and are the second largest ethnic group after ethnic Macedonians.

Arnautovic's offensive actions were interrupted by Austrian captain David Alaba, who had to physically grab him to stop taunting the opposing players. The incident sparked widespread discussion in the Balkans. Many have noted that ironically, Marko Arnautovic's surname indicates that he may be of Albanian origin, as the term Arnaut literally means "Albanian" in Ottoman Turkish.

The Northern Macedonian Football Federation (FFM) condemned Marko Arnautovic's use of hate speech and informed the public through a Facebook post that it had filed an official complaint with UEFA demanding that Arnautovic be punished. Arnautovic apologized for the incident on his Instagram profile, saying it was not racist and adding an apology in Macedonian and Albanian at the end of the post. On June 16, UEFA announced its decision to sanction Arnautovic for his hostile remarks against Alioska. The UEFA appeals body decided to disqualify Arnautovic for one game.

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