UNESCO and FC Barcelona’s ongoing partnership in the fight against racism and discrimination has been reinforced by a video message delivered by the club’s star players, Lionel Messi, Seydou Keita and Gerard Piqué. In the clip, produced to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March, the three star players rally viewers to ‘Put Racism Offside’.

UNESCO and the FC Barcelona signed a partnership agreement in 2007. The central objective of which is to raise awareness on the role of education and sport in the development and well-being of children and youth, and in the promotion of dialogue, mutual understanding and social cohesion. Efforts have focused so far on using sports as a means to combat racism and discrimination, with emphasis on children and youth.

UNESCO’s International Coalition of Cities Against Racism and Discrimination (ICCAR) is also mobilized to celebrate the Day, through a wide range of events. The city of Ghent (Belgium) will mobilize over 5000 people for a ‘Handshake against racism’. Montevideo (Uruguay) will launch ‘Afro World’ to promote the cultures of the city’s African descendants to tourists. And in Johannesburg (South Africa) several events will be organized to remember the 69 people killed during a peaceful anti-apartheid protest in 1960.

In Paris, UNESCO is organizing a local event for the pupils from Paris’ suburbs to discuss gender relations. The students will be encouraged to find ways to fight against discrimination whilst respecting each others’ individual identity. During the event entitled “Towards equality or affirming differences?” pupils will use theatre to enact everyday gender-related situations and exchange different approaches for dealing with them.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination marks the day when in 1960 police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against Apartheid in Sharpeville, South Africa. The UN General Assembly then called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination every year on 21 March.