Let Football Be Football

6 October 2022

Let Football Be Football

For many footballers, harassing words and messages are part of everyday life. Now Vålerenga and Clear Channel are launching the campaign “Let football be football” where they invite the whole football family to take part in the campaign.

“Enough is enough. Let us collectively decide that we will not accept this. Let it be about what happens on the pitch. That’s what “Let football be football” is about”

Jannicke Aas, general manager of Stiftelsen Vålerenga Football Association.

Like the rest of society, the Vålerenga family is made up of all sorts of people of different ethnicitys, orientations, religions and backgrounds. Football, and sport in general, creates commitment and emotions for better or for worse. It is a fact that incitement from the stands and in social media is a growing problem. There is a perception that different norms and rules apply. By highlighting the comments on Clear Channel’s surfaces in the city, the parties hope to create reactions and awareness among those who make comments, but also those who read and hear them.

“When comments like this are raised in the public space, it often gets a lot of attention. Football arenas and social media platforms must be like the rest of society, without a lower threshold for incitement and harassment. We want people to think twice about how they behave and what words they use about other people. That is the movement we want to start.”

Jannicke Aas, general manager of Stiftelsen Vålerenga Football Association.

The Vålerenga Fotball Samfunn foundation promotes “Vålerenga against racism”, which since its inception in 1996 has distanced itself from all forms of discrimination. Together with the rest of Vålerenga and Clear Channel, they are now inviting the entire football family to become part of the campaign by sharing a football photo on social media with the hashtag #lafotballværefotball (letfootballbefootball)

“Damn refugee”

Among those who have experienced ugly and hateful expressions towards them is Vålerenga player Osame Sahraoui. After a Lillestrøm match, he received a message on Twitter that read: “So you celebrate where you do. Damn refugee, get the hell home”.

“Racism does not belong anywhere. Comments that have to do with my skin color or ethnic background have nothing to do with how I perform on the football field.”

Osame Sahraoui, Vålerenga player

Vålerenga and national team goalkeeper Guro Pettersen speaks of jargon among certain audiences that does not belong anywhere.

“I think it is important that parents and adults are good role models online. When children read that adults write badly about players and about women’s football, they think that they can do it too. Internet hate probably cannot be completely prevented, but talking about it can help to prevent something.”

Vålerenga and national team goalkeeper Guro Petterse

Captain of Vålerenga’s street team, John Holter, constantly experiences stigmatizing comments from the stands. After almost 10 years of being drug-free, he wants to avoid hearing audience members use “narkis”, which is a swear word.

Strong voice – great responsibility

In weeks 40 and 41, the campaign will be shown in its entirety on Clear Channel’s digital screens in Oslo. Also taking part in the campaign are Vålerenga player Christian Borchgrevink and Husam Marai, coach for integration football in Vålerenga Samfunn.

The comments used in the campaign are a mixture of personally experienced events and general comments taken from the stands and in social media.

History shows that major changes in attitudes in society begin with involvement in the urban space. Both Vålerenga and Clear Channel are a natural part of the cityscape in the capital. The collaboration partners therefore believe that this is an important social responsibility to take on, and that they have the channels and the voice to raise the issue to the public eye. Clear Channel’s Country Manager, Dennis Højland Nyegaard, knows that their flats get a lot of attention, and is aware of his responsibility.   

“Clear Channel wants to contribute to a better society. A good society, we mean, is an inclusive society where everyone is accepted. Clear Channel is present where people travel. We are therefore proud to make our spaces available for this type of engagement.”

 Clear Channel’s Country Manager, Dennis Højland Nyegaard

According to the NFF’s figures, 264,335 children and young people play football in Norway. Football is therefore an important social arena for many children and young people growing up.

“Today’s football world has a need to nurture young people into a more inclusive football world. We know that we have a very strong channel to reach the young. Thus, we also have an extra large responsibility towards them. Future footballers and supporters deserve an inclusive football culture free of racism and harassment.”

 Clear Channel’s Country Manager, Dennis Højland Nyegaard

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