A new 16 page fanzine, called United Colours of Football 2, which has been produced by Kick It Out and Football Unites, Racism Divides, is being launched today as part of the FARE European-wide week of action against racism in football. It contains an exclusive interview with Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson and pieces by Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, broadcaster Dominik Diamond, and numerous fans.
The fanzine includes contributions from both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday supporters and will be distributed within regular fanzines at forthcoming matches at both Sheffield clubs as well as by supporters groups at more than 60 clubs throughout the Premiership and Football League in the next few weeks.
Sheffield youth worker and Blades fan Abid Rahim has contributed an article looking at the lack of Asian professional footballers and some of the issues that may face the first Asian players to hit the big time. Abid said he became involved because of his frustration at "the continuing lack of progress by young footballers from the Pakistani community making it into the professional game. I still feel that the football institutions have not sufficiently changed to accommodate players and fans from the Asian communities. And, as the top clubs become richer it decreases the options for Asian footballers to make the grade given the continuing stereotypes that exist".
Abid is well aware of the footballing talent within the Asian communities as he manages the predominantly Asian team Sharrow United, who are currently pushing for promotion in their first season in the Regional Alliance Sunday League.
It is hoped that the uncompromising style and language of the fanzine will appeal to a type of fan who is more likely to be cynical of current anti-racism measures.
In his interview for Kick It Out, Sir Alex Ferguson recounts his fear following Eric Cantona's attack on a Crystal Palace fan, in reaction to abuse in 1995, that Cantona would have to be released by the club. He also speaks of his view that education at home and school is the key to changing attitudes.
Irvine Welsh, acclaimed author and Hibernian fan, defends his right to let off steam and swear at matches, drawing a line between swearing and racial abuse.
Activities to highlight the continuing problems of racism in football will take place in Italy, Austria, Germany, Norway, Poland and Spain. The activities will range from official anti-racist days inside stadiums, to fans unveiling banners on the terraces.
Piara Powar, National Co-ordinator of Kick It Out, today commented,
"As a national campaign it's vitally important for us to be constantly working with fans and playing a part in the debates and arguments that are a vital part of fan culture. Through the unprecedented numbers of supporters it will reach the fanzine will allow us to engage some of those who have been less receptive to our message in the past."
Howard Holmes, from Football Unites, Racism Divides said,
"Fans have been central to the process of fighting racism in football in Britain; the number of supporters groups involved in the distribution of the fanzine clearly shows the appetite to continue the process is still there. On a more global level we are pleased to be able to contribute to European-wide action on this issue. The coming together of fans on this scale is a powerful step forward."
For further information please contact Howard Holmes on 0114 255 3156.
For full details of the European action week see www.farenet.org
Copies of the fanzine are available from Football Unites - Racism Divides, The Stables, Sharrow Lane, Sheffield S11 8AE.