January 27, 2005

Thierry Henry and fellow players call on fans to fight racism

Following the recent increase in reports of racist incidents in football, Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry has joined forces with other top players from across Europe in a new campaign protesting against this continuing problem.

(27 January, 2005) – Following the recent increase in reports of racist incidents in football, Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry has joined forces with other top players from across Europe in a new campaign protesting against this continuing problem.

The campaign - called Stand Up Speak Up - aims to encourage the silent majority’ of non-racist fans to speak up against racist abuse in stadiums. The symbol of the campaign is two interlocked wristbands, one black, one white, which will be worn by players across Europe from the end of January. Initially, 2.5 million of the wristbands will be available to fans across Europe from 6th February.

In return for the wristbands, fans are invited to make a donation of €2 (£1.50 UK), which will go towards a central Stand Up Speak Up fund. This fund will be administered by an independent, not-for-profit organization - the King Baudouin Foundation, based in Brussels - which will conduct extensive research into the problem of racism in football and distribute the money raised to organizations across Europe working in this area.

The campaign, which is created by Nike, features a TV commercial in which different players hold written cards that demonstrate their joy at football, but their anger at continuing racist abuse. The players in the commercial emphasise that they need the help of other fans to prevent this abuse. The Commercial was filmed during December 2004 in five different languages. Every version features Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho, but the following other players feature in the different language versions:

English - Rio Ferdinand, Ruud Van Nistelrooy French - Claude Makalele, Phillippe Mexes Spanish - Carlos Puyol, Roberto Carlos German - Christoph Metzelder, Otto Addo Italian - Adriano, Fabio Cannavaro

“Racism is one of the biggest problems facing football across Europe. People may think the problem has disappeared, but it hasn’t. The players on the pitch need the help of all fans to help drown out the racists and tell them their actions aren’t acceptable. It’s time to stand up and speak up” - Thierry Henry

To find out more about the campaign, including a list of stores where the wristbands can be obtained and where donations can be made, fans can log on to www.standupspeakup.com.