The first ever Anti-Racism Strategy for Malta has been launched – the first national action plan against racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. 
For this occasion, the Ministry for Equality, Research and Innovation, together with the Ministry for Tourism and Consumer Protection, have set up an international partnership with Manchester United, which does important work in the fight against racism in the sports. Football legend Dwight Yorke, who was present for the launch of the strategy at the National Stadium in Ta’ Qali, gave his full support for this anti-racism initiative.
Dwight Yorke, who has had a very successful footballing career at the highest levels of the sport, said that he is very happy to see that Malta is also standing up against racism. He added that Manchester United has always had players of diverse ethnicities and this was crucial for the team’s success. On her part, Maltese footballer Maya Lucia, who was also present for the launch, said that she has also sometimes been a target of racism, and not just in football. She also expressed her satisfaction at now being able to be a voice for this Anti-Racism Strategy.
European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli and Human Rights Directorate Representative Alex Tortell also gave their support.
During his intervention, Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation Owen Bonnici said that, “This strategy spans society as a whole, and involves key stakeholders at all levels. We have measures involving the government, social partners, research, training, political parties, civil society, data collection, and others. But there is one measure which I want to stress today which is the outreach to bring anti-racism to citizens in their towns and villages. Unacceptable events which happened in recent years, up to a couple of days ago, prove how much this is crucial. It is essential to implement the strategy in institutions, but also at the grassroots. Anti-racism is both top-down and bottom-up”, explained the minister.
He said that the strategy is not a document about immigration, although it obviously addresses significant racial discrimination against persons of migrant background. The minister said that, “Maltese society is today so diverse that within our own families we have persons of every sort of racial and ethnic background, belief or no belief at all, and sexual orientation, to mention just a few.”
Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Clayton Bartolo said that, “This strategy is a joint effort to continue building a strong coalition against hatred and racism. Having Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke as a promoter of this strategy showcases the power of sport to advocate the principles of equality and respect amongst society, especially the younger generations. I certainly believe that children can be the main ambassadors of an anti-racist Malta and through the global destination partnership deal that Malta has with Manchester United will be a huge help to push forward this strategy towards success.”
European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli said that it is not enough for us to claim that we are not racist. We should rather recognise our shortcomings and become actively anti-racist. That means that when we encounter episodes of racism, we challenge them. “We need to treat racism as if it were a direct attack on ourselves”, she stated.
On his part, Mr Alexander Tortell said that, “The Anti-Racism Strategy we are launching is a comprehensive policy document, which aims to confront and eliminate racism in all its forms, individual, systemic and societal and to stimulate and support intercultural inclusion. Through its 22 measures, it makes anti-racism and anti-discrimination both individual and collective responsibilities across all sectors of society – Government and the public sector, democratic and political institutions, the media, but also the private sector, civil society, and the general population. This policy is in line with the EU’s anti-racism action plan 2020-2025”.
During the second part of the event, a number of Maltese children who attend the Birżebbuġa Windmills Nursery had the opportunity of having a training session with Dwight Yorke himself, in the presence of Head of Manchester United Soccer Schools Mike Neary at the football complex in Birżebbuġa.