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UK football club initiative aims to welcome refugees

Copyrights: Beyond Sport

UK football club initiative aims to welcome refugees

27-28 April saw Amnesty International UK's third - and largest - edition of the Football Welcomes initiative, a project across the UK that brings attention to not only the contribution of refugees to the game, but also the reciprocal potential for football to help in welcoming refugees into their communities.

The “Football Welcomes” initiative from Amnesty International UK returned for its third year with a record-breaking number of football clubs taking part to celebrate the contribution people with refugee backgrounds make to the game.

More than 160 clubs – almost triple the previous year’s number – were set to take part to highlight the important role football clubs can play in welcoming refugees into their local communities, and in helping them to settle in to a new country and culture.

This year’s event saw football clubs from across England, Scotland and Wales giving free match tickets to refugees and people seeking asylum, arranging player visits, stadium tours, or organising matches and tournaments for refugees in their communities.

With support from People’s Postcode Lottery and backed by Premier League clubs, as well as the English Football League; FA Women’s Super League; the FA Women’s National League, SPFL Trust and grassroots and non-league teams across the country, Football Welcomes celebrates the role of refugee players in UK football.

Ahead of the weekend, Amnesty released new data on the rise in racism and xenophobia in football and the calls from fans to tackle it. The survey shows:

  • Two in five (41%) football fans believe there has been an increase in racism and over a third (34%) believe there has been an increase in xenophobia in football over the last three years
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) have personally witnessed an increase in racism and / or xenophobia and one in ten (12%)  have personally experienced an increase
  • The majority (90%) of football fans agree that clubs have a responsibility to tackle it

The results also show that the majority (92%) of football fans agree that football clubs should be a 'force for good' in their local community. With over a third (37%) saying they are proud of the community work their football club does and almost half (44%) saying football gives them a sense of belonging.

Anita Asante, Amnesty Ambassador and Chelsea defender, said: “It can take a lot of integrity and courage to stand up against divisive and hateful actions and rhetoric but as football players, teams and fans it’s important we all play our part.”

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 09:01