Global sport policy review to integrate refugees
Many strides have been made over the last five decades in an attempt to support the social inclusion, physical health and well-being of the forcibly displaced in society through sport (Appiah Kusi, 2022; Spaaij et al., 2019). In this call for articles, McTavish indicated how the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is organizing fundraising, collection of goods and registration of vacant and habitable flats to receive and welcome refugees, particularly from Ukraine. It is evident that efforts are being made globally, by international humanitarian agencies, sport actors and sport organizations to support the forcibly displaced.
Recently, Spaaij and Oxford (2018) have suggested that one of the main challenges in preventing sport from effectively contributing to social inclusion, physical health and well-being of refugees is policy and political gap, particularly in host communities. It is against this background that the European Union and the Global North have made tremendous efforts in sport and physical activity as a medium to be able to offer care, support, love and integration to the forcibly displaced (Spaaij et al., 2019).
The recent displacements in Ukraine as a result of the war, the Philippines as a result of the typhoon, Nigeria as a result of flooding, and many other African countries resulting from economic instability has ballooned the crisis of refugees, putting a huge burden on international agencies, sport actors and organizations to rethink and reconsider a strategic approach to aid the victims in host communities.
This article proposes the need for reviewing sport policy globally to integrate refugees. This action would be better initiated by the international governing bodies of sport, international sport associations and continental sport associations. For instance, FIFA, as the highest global governing body of football with over 200 member associations worldwide, would be able to redirect a review of sport policy at the various member nations with a greater emphasis on refugees’ integration into the host society via football. This becomes easy for the national sport organizations to readjust, as FIFA forbids political interventions in football at all member nations, thereby, limiting the impact of sport to be effectively used as a tool to integrate refugees. International sport governing bodies such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would be better engaged to augment a review of Olympic and African Games sport policy at the various member associations to absorb and integrate refugees.
I propose to UNHCR and sport actors to initiate a collaboration between international sport governing bodies on the need to mediate a review on sport policy to include refugees with specific directions on sustainable, effective and contextual sporting and/or recreational facilities to better integrate the refugees, thereby, lessening the burden of international agencies, sport actors and sport organizations in their attempt to provide support for refugees.
Spaaij, R., & Oxford, S. (2018). “SDP and forced displacement”, in Routledge Handbook of Sport and Development and Peace, Eds Collison, H., Darnell, S., Giulianotti, R., & Howe, P.D. (London: Routledge), 385-395.
Spaaij, R., Broerse, J., Oxford, S., Luguetti, C., McLachlan, F., McDonald, B., Klepac, B., Lymbery, L., Bishara, J., & Pankowiak, A. (2019). Sport, Refugees, and Forced Migration: A Critical Review of the Literature. Front. Sports Act. Living 1:47. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2019.00047
Frank Appiah Kusi is an Assistant Lecturer in Sport Management at the School of Sports and Exercise Medicine of University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana. Appiah Kusi is also a Ph.D. student at Philippine Christian University, Manila, where his research focus on Sport Marketing and Sponsorship.