The challenges that the migration crisis is putting on sports will be the focus of the Football for People week that the Football against Racism in Europe (FARE) network and UEFA are holding October 11-25 across the continent. ''Football and Refugees - Addressing Key Challenges'' is the theme chosen for the 2018 edition, to reflect on how football can alleviate the difficulties that are emerging on the continent connected with migration.
Football affected by migration
''While some countries are more affected than others," a statement issued by UEFA and FARE says, "this forced migration has sparked a global debate spanning social, cultural, economic, political and environmental issues." ''As the world's most popular sport, and one that is deeply embedded in the fabric of society, football has been affected by this global crisis," it continues, "yet also has the potential to help alleviate it."
UEFA and its associations are working hard to contribute to tackling the crisis, and the good practices collection emerged from a recent UEFA Study Group Scheme (SGS) seminar in Dublin, organized in conjunction with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI). "Football and Refugees - Addressing Key Challenges" has been compiled as a record of that seminar. Fourteen national associations have contributed to the guide, highlighting their own experiences with refugees and providing advice and recommendations for the football community at large.
Looking into best practices
''Many of them - refugee women, men and children - have made kicking a ball the practical symbol of new relations in a new environment among new people,'' UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said. ''The purpose of this UEFA best practice collection is to remind us of the steps and precautions we should take to make this age-old process smoother, more humane and more efficient."
''The 'beautiful game' can make great use of this excellent collection to ensure that refugees, also thanks to football, will thrive in their new homes and be able to make a lasting and positive contribution to the societies they blend into,'' he added. The importance of football as a means to help deal with the refugee crisis was underscored also by managing director of the Fare network, Piara Powar.
He noted that ''despite the complicated nature of the issues we face, it is heartening to see that football has been able to respond to many of these challenges decisively and effectively." ''Europe has changed and football - teams, clubs, coaches, referees and supporters - will echo this change in the coming decades. We are only at the beginning,'' he added.