World Refugee Day 2022: the broad support of European football | Within UEFA

UEFA is proud to work alongside UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to use the power of football to build a better future for refugees and displaced people in Europe.

Supporting refugees is one of UEFA’s key human rights policies in its new sustainability strategy, Strength in Numbers, and that’s why last year we signed a cooperation protocol with UNHCR, supporting refugees’ access to sport and strengthening social inclusion.

Action from the UNHCR Refugees match at the UEFA Champions League fan festival in ParisUEFA via Getty Images

Since 2017, UEFA has also run the Football and Refugee Grant Scheme, which funds projects across Europe. Today, 11 national association programs each receive financial support to invest in their work with refugees.

In 2022, for the first time, we are also delighted to welcome a new tournament with eight national association teams at our headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, competing for the first UNITY EURO Cup.

Michele Uva, Football and Social Responsibility Director

“Today, on World Refugee Day, UEFA honors the strength and courage of refugees together with UNHCR. Our common goal is to help refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people stay physically and mentally healthy and be part of their host community through the power of football.

“We have increased UEFA’s investment in refugee aid by 40% and warmly congratulate the national associations among the 11 winners and eight special mentions of our refugee grant programme. UNITY EURO Cup on June 29.”

UEFA’s sustainability strategy and support for human rights and refugees

Winners of Football and Refugee Scholarship Program

A refugee playing football in Tubize, Belgium

A refugee playing football in Tubize, BelgiumPhotographic news

Today, UEFA announced the 11 winners of the 2021/22 Football and Refugee Grant programme, which funds refugee-related projects organized and managed by European football associations.

This season, European football’s governing body has received 23 applications from member associations, with a wide range of proposals offering opportunities to play, professional training, support for the health and welfare of refugees, access to the labor market and projects specifically targeting refugee and displaced women. people.

Who are the winners of the Refugee and Grant Scheme?

Armenia – The Football Association of Armenia (FFA)
FFA’s ‘Playing Together for Integration’ explores football’s unique added value to humanitarian aid. It aims to integrate all refugees, including non-playing family members, through family football events involving local communities. The project also contributes to career building in football, providing training and employment opportunities for already qualified coaches/referees from the refugee community.

Belgium – Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA)
“Everyone on the Pitch 2.0” builds on the RBFA’s existing program for refugees, creating opportunities in many different roles, such as players, stewards, volunteers, coaches and referees. Refugees will also be an integral part of social initiatives linked to the RBFA’s innovative “Red Court” concept. The 40 Red Courts are mini pitches found throughout Belgium, with strong links to local community clubs.

Croatia – The Croatian Football Federation (HNS)
Based on lessons learned from previous refugee programmes, the HNS New Neighbors initiative is addressing the barriers preventing displaced people from accessing football, providing equipment and covering subscription costs at the club. In addition, to accelerate the integration of young refugees into Croatian society, after-school programs for children playing football are offered, also helping them with homework and learning Croatian language/culture.

England – Association Football (FA)
The FA’s “Women’s Football Leadership Programme” offers bespoke leadership training for refugee women who aspire to become leaders in women’s and women’s football. This program aligns with the FA’s wider women’s football strategy and its Football for All goal, contributing to its efforts to build a motivated and diverse array of local leaders in their communities.

Finland – Football Association of Finland (SPL)
The SPL’s “Football Belongs to Everyone” project involves a wide variety of stakeholders, from reception centres, clubs and UNHCR to Finnish Migration Services, to enrich the lives of refugees through football activities. In response to the war in Ukraine, the Finnish FA also plans to offer free access to club football to thousands of Ukrainian refugee children.

Iceland – Icelandic Football Association (KSÍ)
The “Welcome to the Neighborhood – Find Your Passion in Football!” du KSÍ The concept addresses the barriers to the participation of refugees in football and society. The main focus is on children, but the involvement of their parents to improve the inclusion process is also a key element. The Icelandic federation, the football clubs and a cultural mediator will provide continuous and close personal support to each family interested in football activities.

Italy – The Italian Football Federation (FIGC)
The FIGC’s “Together for Herat – Empowering through Football” program takes a holistic approach to supporting refugee women from Afghanistan, their coaches and their families. Beyond football activities, the program also seeks to empower its beneficiaries by giving them access to mobility and tools enabling them to undertake academic programs and vocational training.

Malta – Malta Football Association (MFA)
The MFA’s ‘Pass the Ball’ concept will pair refugee players with local female footballers in a unique mentorship programme. It also explores innovative ways to help refugee women learn the language and culture and find employment in football. Through its community-based approach, the project also seeks to involve family members of refugee women, beyond those who play football.

Moldova – Football Association of Moldova (FMF)
In addition to organized football tournaments for children and adults, the FMF proposal also takes a holistic approach to help with the social inclusion of refugees. Vocational training and help with university tuition is provided, while particularly gifted refugee children will receive a scholarship to attend a football academy to further develop their footballing skills.

Northern Ireland – Irish Football Association (IFA)
In partnership with many stakeholders and expert organizations, the IFA’s “Welcome Through Football” refugee empowerment project is built on many pillars, including playing opportunities, a women’s volunteer program, l access to training for coaches, the fight against racism and discrimination, the involvement of locals and other migrant populations and the creation of a network of inclusive clubs.

Romania – The Romanian Football Federation (FRF)
“Football 4 Refugees 2.0” builds on the FRF’s long experience in helping refugees. The main objective is to help them become an integral part of society by offering language courses and job fairs related to football activities. The program has a strong focus on women, with the creation of two new women’s teams planned. In close collaboration with UNHCR, football activities for Ukrainian refugees in six national refugee centers and three sites made available by the Ministry of Sports complete the project.

Special mentions also go to the Albanian Football Federation, the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan, the Czech Football Federation, the Danish Football Federation, the Estonian Football Federation, the Latvian Federation of football, the Irish Football Federation and the Scottish Football Federation. Association.


The UNITY EURO Cup trophy at the Colovray stadium in Nyon, Switzerland

The UNITY EURO Cup trophy at the Colovray stadium in Nyon, Switzerland

On Wednesday 29 June, mixed teams of refugees from across Europe will come together for a friendly competition to demonstrate and celebrate football’s ability to strengthen ties between host communities and displaced people, to break down barriers and create a spirit of inclusion.

Teams from Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Malta, Republic of Ireland and Switzerland will be accompanied by illustrious ambassadors from the world of football, local children and families will be able to catch the action at the Colovray stadium in Nyon.

Each team will be made up of 70% refugees and 30% non-refugee players, advocating for football to strengthen ties between host communities and refugees.

Who are the tournament ambassadors?

Austria – Marc Janko (ex-international)
Belgium – Mbo Mpenza (ex-international player)
France – Laura Georges (former international player)
Germany – to be confirmed
Italy – Demetrio Albertini (ex-international)
Malta – Christian Damiano (former international player)
Republic of Ireland – Stephen Kenny (Men’s National Team Coach)
Switzerland – Murat Yakin (men’s national team coach)

The action kicks off at 14:00 CET that day, with UEFA Referees Committee chairman Roberto Rosetti, who officiated in the EURO 2008 final, officiating the tournament final.

The draw for the tournament, which is the concrete result of the partnership agreement between UNHCR and UEFA signed last year, took place earlier in the day. Football legends Nadine Kessler and Zvonimir Boban took part in a special live broadcast for the participating teams.

How the UEFA Foundation supports Ukrainian refugees

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