Dutch football shifts to "action mode" in fight against racism and discrimination
The KNVB is “more in action mode” when it comes to tackling racism and discrimination. Marianne van Leeuwen, director of professional football at the Dutch football association, said that on Thursday at a conference in Zeist where the KNVB presented its plans against racism and discrimination for the coming years, at least until 2025. Outgoing Minister Conny Helder (Long-term Care and Sport) was also present.
The KNVB and government are extending their coordinated approach against racism and discrimination in football until 2025, the KNVB announced. “We are going to shift the emphasis slightly,” said Van Leeuwen. “The emphasis was on awareness, and that won’t stop. But, we are going more into action mode. That if something happens, we will actually report it.”
The recent excesses in professional football require a firm approach, Helder said. “You think you are making progress, and then you hear that Ajax player Brian Brobbery has been racially abused.” Helder referred to an incident after the Eredivisie match between FC Twente and Ajax a week and a half ago. “And a week later, you see the misconduct of Ajax supporters in and around the Johan Cruijff ArenA. These are excesses that do not belong to the sport. It is shameful.”
Helder is pleased to extend the collaboration with the KNVB on the theme of racism and discrimination. “It is a unique moment that we are standing here again and making a new start,” she said. “We want football to truly be of everyone and for everyone. There is no place for racism and discrimination. We recognize that racism and discrimination are still current problems. It is deeply rooted.”
The Cabinet and KNVB presented the first plan to combat racism and discrimination in football at the beginning of 2020, following an incident in November 2019 during an FC Den Bosch match against Excelsior in the first division. Den Bosch supporters racially assaulted Excelsior player Ahmad Mendes Moreira.
The government then made 14 million euros available for a period of three years for the OVIVI (Our Football Is For Everyone) plan. The KNVB presented the new plan, OVIVI 2, on Thursday. It will run until at least 2025.
The plan has 22 components, divided into four “action lines”: prevention, signaling, sanctioning, and working together. The KNVB wants to raise awareness with training programs for professional football and amateur football clubs. The football association will continue with the OneLove campaign. “After three years, the focus shifts from inspiring to activating,” said the KNVB.
OVIVI 2 also addresses racist chants in stadiums. The KNVB is currently testing various technical solutions to combat discriminatory chants. It involves identifying, recording, predicting, and influencing the behavior of supporters. To gain more insight into the solutions’ effect, the KNVB is expanding or extending several projects by a season.
The Ministry of Justice and Security, the KNVB, and three municipalities will experiment with a digital reporting obligation for football hooligans with a stadium ban this season. The KNVB is also investigating whether strengthening disciplinary law and increasing the penalties reduces the number of racist and discriminatory incidents.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times