The team of Streetkick workers from Football Unites were faced with a major headache in the lead up to the recent Euro2004 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 event – now fully sanctioned by the authorities – 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!
‘It was a memorable experience, proving that football has this unique power to bring people together in a common celebration of their love for the game’, said Football Unites co-ordinator Howard Holmes, ‘whilst the massive increase in the numbers of black and Asian fans travelling to support England has been very uplifting’
Streetkick’s next outing is at the Sharrow Festival in Mount Pleasant Park on Saturday 10th July, where Football Unites will also have a stall. Chantwriters anti-racist writing group will also be there with a Poetry Booth with readings throughout the day for all ages:
Bring a line to add to a Festival Poem
a word to make a one line poem of this year’s Festival
‘beautiful picnics stilts sunny people balloons fantastic samba day …’
Bring-a-poem for us to read
Read a poem to us, different languages especially welcome
Or simply come and chill in a Poetry Oasis
**For more details on FURD’s journey through Portugal, or other activities of Football Unites, Racism Divides, contact Howard Holmes on 0114 2553156.