The first conference on “Combating Hate Speech in Sport” was held on 31 May 2022 in hybrid format (Strasbourg and online). ENGSO was represented by Linda Rombola, ENGSO EU Advisory Committee member and OPES project manager within the international department.
The launch conference “Combating Hate Speech in Sport” marked the official start of a joint initiative between the European Union and Council of Europe, and implemented by the Council of Europe’s Sport Division.
The aim of the project is to explore innovative approaches to tackle and address the hate speech in sport. Three main sessions formed the first (launch) conference:
Understanding the state of play concerning hate speech in sport, in the 6 countries involved in the project;
Exploring the current European policy framework;
Sharing relevant practices and experiences from the sport field in order to understand the impact that hate speech has in the sport field and which initiatives have been taken to tackle the phenomenon.
The phenomenon of hate speech is very complex and there is no one single way to tackle it. It represents an immense challenge which has a big impact in society, and requires a lot of work and responsibility to be addressed and tackled in a proper way.
Sport is one of the most important fields in which it is important to work on and promote Human Rights because sport is a place where hate speech occurs on regular basis. But sport can also be used as a diplomacy tool to bring people together and prevent hatred and abuse. Synergy and collaboration among different stakeholders is fundamental in order to establish efficient measures that will be help combat this phenomenon.
Among the policies presented at the conference, the COE’s legal and policy framework to combat hate speech, adopted in Turin in May, was specifically highlighted.
The framework also applies to sport sector in different aspects, in particular:
The topic of education was also underlined during the third session, in particular concerning
During the event several examples were presented to highlight the occurrence and impact that hate speech has in the sport field:
Interesting topics on what we can do and what needs to be work on emerged during the conference:
In conclusion to the event the Head of the Sport Division, EPAS Executive Secretary, Council of Europe, Sophie Kwasny ended the meeting by sharing three main words representing the launch:
– “impact”, referred to the power of sport, and how initiatives in and through sport can support societal change, – “willingness”, referred to the common commitment emerged to share and learn and – “together”, stressing the importance of alliance, to learn from the others and tackle together the phenomenon.
She also announced the next steps of the project: a mapping exercise in each country involved in the project, and the preparation of national factsheets. This work will support the upgrade of the national strategies or prepare new ones, including the national campaigns.