POSTED: November 15th 2008

Madrid backs Tolerance Day

Mercedes Coghen spreads the tolerance message / Image: Madrid 2016
Mercedes Coghen spreads the tolerance message / Image: Madrid 2016

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

MADRID, Nov 15: Madrid's 2016 bid team is playing a central role in the Day of Tolerance which is intended to portray the Spanish capital as tolerant and a haven for diversity.

Activities have been coordinated by a meeting earlier this week between Mercedes Coghen (Madrid 2016 Olympic bid chief ), Madrid's Sports Minister Alberto López Viejo, Atlético de Madrid president Enrique Cerezo and Spanish Olympic vice-chairman Rodrigo de Mesa as well as players, chairmen and representatives of the 10 most important sports clubs in Madrid.

They watched a preview of a film in which foreign sportsmen and women who play for Madrid's main clubs demonstrated their support for Madrid as a friendly and inclusive region.*
The campaign is of particular importance after complaints from foreign football teams that their black players were abused by Spanish sports fans in various venues in the city.

In the film, 46 players of different ethnic and racial backgrounds talk about the inclusiveness of sport in and around Madrid, in harmony with the slogan: "I like Madrid. Madrid is tolerance. I am from Madrid."

Coghen said: "Madrid is a tolerant city, although we have seen some disgraceful bouts of intolerance carried out by a small number who don't represent the general common mind of the people of Madrid."

She also explained an initiative of the bid project to educate young people on the Olympic values, saying: "The 2016 Games are the Games with the Human Touch and we are working on the Generación 16 program with sport as the best weapon against intolerance."
Footballers' starring roles

The film features Tomas Ujfalsi (right), Marcelo, Roberto Abbondanzieri, Marino Perea, Pepe, and Bullock alongside the singer, Orishas Yotuel. Over the coming months, it will be shown in regional schools, both in workshops organised by the association Movement against Intolerance and within those high schools participating in the schools championships. 
López Viejo said: "Madrid is a different community, friendlier than most. A Madrileño is anyone who lives and enjoys Madrid and this is particularly so in sport, which, because of its special characteristics, is an unrivalled inclusive element. Of all activities, sport is the best vehicle for transmitting these values to our youngsters and for maintaining our privileged position in terms of integration."

Activities planned include mini world cup tournaments for immigrants in indoor football and basketball.

The Sports Ministry has also signed a collaboration agreement with Movement against Intolerance under which more than 300 workshops are to be set up. Around 200 will be focused on making school children aware of the need to prevent violence while another 125 will concentrate on sports education in schools and the need to work against intolerant and racist behaviour.

This programme is being managed by the Sports Ministry in collaboration with the Ministries for Education, Immigration, Employment, and Women. The programme is being developed through 80 centres in Madrid. 
* Athletes participating in the International Day for Tolerance film include footballers Tomas Ujfalusi, Paulo Assunçao and Marino Perea from Atlético de Madrid; Pepe and Marcelo from Real Madrid; Roberto Abbondanzieri, Eugen Polanski, Joffre Guerrón and Ikechukwu Uche from Getafe; and Rayo Vallecano's Mohamed Diamé.

Representative of other sports include basketball (players from Estudiantes, Fuenlabrada, and Real Madrid), handball (Alcobendas), hockey (Club de Campo), indoor football (Encofra Navalcarnero), and volleyball (Volley Sanse).

Keywords · Madrid · 2016 · Olympic Games · Day of Tolerance · Mercedes Coghen

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

All original materials contained in this section are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Sports Features Communications, Inc the owner of that content. It is prohibited to alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.