UEFA, together with European think tank Sport and Citizenship organized a conference on the role of football in social integration in the European Parliament. In her opening speech, MEP Lívia Járóka spoke of the necessity of combating racism in football stadiums and improving the health of Roma communities.
RESPECT, UEFA's social responsibility programme and European think tank Sport and Citizenship organized a conference and roundtable discussion titled 'Football and social integration in Europe' in the European Parliament. In her opening speech, MEP Lívia Járóka drew the attention to the spreading of racism in football stadiums and emphasized the necessity of changing fan's attitudes and promoting fair play. According to Járóka, sports and due to its outstanding popularity particularly football can be an effective tool for breaking out of poverty, strengthening positive identity and may also contribute to the prevention of crime and victimization.
The MEP further highlighted that the health indicators of Roma are far below the average: their life expectancy is 10-12 years shorter than that of the majority population and tumours for example are twice as common among Roma. Járóka therefore emphasized that making sport facilities and sport activities accessible is essential for promoting a healthy lifestyle among disadvantaged youth. The MEP also spoke of her plan to organize a major charity and awareness-raising football-gala in 2014, with the participation of the most famous European football players of Roma origin.