A team of Football Unites workers toured Portugal as part of the UEFA -funded FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) programme of activities, helping to keep fans entertained, and peacefully interacting with each other, by staging Streetkick tournaments in Euro 2004 host cities. The game also provided an opportunity to distribute FARE information on anti-racism in football.
In Porto, based directly next to the German fan embassy, a number of teams made up of different nationalities played street football in a relaxed atmosphere before the Netherlands-Germany game. For many supporters it was the perfect opportunity to kill some time during the long wait for the highly charged game between the neighbouring rivals.
However the team of Streetkick workers from Football Unites were faced with a major headache in the lead up to the England-Croatia game in Lisbon.
After a successful first week holding Streetkick events in Porto and Guimaraes, Football Unites staff were left perplexed and frustrated when city council officials and police overturned earlier promises to host an event in the centrally-situated Praca da Figueira, citing security fears.
Frantic lobbying by workers from Football Unites and partners in FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe), plus personal pleas to the Mayor of Lisbon and the chief of police paid off when last-minute permission was granted.
English, Croatian and Portuguese supporters then took part in a series of friendly games in the lead up to the big match, contributing to a generally positive atmosphere between the two sets of fans before and after England’s 4-2 win.
The Football Unites Streetkick team returned home after a final before the Germany/Czech Republic qualifying decider on Wednesday 23rd June. Indeed the city council and police were by now so impressed with the impact of the inflatable game that they wanted to keep it in Lisbon for the rest of the tournament!
The StreetKick tour clearly demonstrated the unique power of football in bringing together people in a celebratory atmosphere through a common love of the game.