It is high time that we take charge ourselves

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When various forms of discrimination overshadow the football itself, it is high time that we the players addresses the issues from the inside.

By MARKUS NAKKIM (24), Mjøndalen
and IVAN NÄSBERG (24), Vålerenga
Elite football players

Judge Tom Harald Hagen made a brave and important choice, and at the very right time, when he emerged as gay. But paradoxically, there have been several sad episodes in parallel with the markings against discrimination. That is the background for our initiative.

We have no doubt that Flamur Kastrati did not know what he said, and we applaud him for becoming an ambassador for queer Muslims. But our problem is twofold:

It is commendable that Norsk Toppfotball reacted quickly with the #STOP campaign after the racist shouts against Amahl Pellegrino. But it is not enough to participate in attitude work that comes from above or from outside. We must find in ourselves what we want to stand for – and make it aware.

Therefore, we contacted Freddy dos Santos as leader of #STOPP and presented our project: We want to establish a diversity project that the players run themselves, which influences and raises awareness from within the wardrobes. We will recruit “attitude ambassadors” in all player squads and in that way work concretely to lift all forms of discrimination and inclusion into
wardrobe talk. We start with the Elite Series. Then we take the Toppserien and the OBOS league and see what we can achieve.

The football culture is generous and inclusive. When supporters go to the stadium to support their favorite teams, there is no difference between rich and poor, small and large. There should also be no difference between black and white, straight and gay, Muslim and Catholic.

It is everyone who loves football, responsible for – each of us, and the community of which we are a part. But it does not only help that unions and clubs work for integration and against racism, that the captains play with rainbow ties, or that we pose with #STOP posters, if we players are not able to live up to the intentions and ideals.

And the ideals are not moralism or abusive culture. We will give beatings and we will endure beatings. We will fire up and have a high temperature both on the field and in the stands. When it boils down the most, we will still scold each other and use words we are not so proud of.

But we must not discriminate. We will not use skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion against anyone. On the contrary: we must desire diversity and we must embrace it. Football must be a good atmosphere. And high temperature is good mood as long as we stay inside.

Football reflects society in general, and very few football players are racists or homophobes. But many are not very aware of when you cross the border without meaning to.

Where is the line between reporting harshly and discriminating?

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