Migrants playing football at Karatepe refugee camp on Lesbos island, Greece | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/VANGELIS PAPANTONIS
Migrants playing football at Karatepe refugee camp on Lesbos island, Greece | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/VANGELIS PAPANTONIS

UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, have signed a cooperation protocol to support refugees and forcibly displaced people. In a statement, they says the want to harness "the transformative power of football to assist and uphold their rights and strengthen their integration in their host communities."

UEFA and UNHCR signed this week a cooperation protocol to support refugee access to sports while enhancing their social inclusion. UNHCR said in a statement published on May 21 that the protocol commits the two organizations to establish long-term initiatives to support refugees and forcibly displaced people.

The partnership will also encourage close collaboration on the ground between UEFA's member associations and UNHCR offices in Europe.

'Football has the ability to unite'

The agreement was signed by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and UEFA's Football and Social Responsibility Director Michele Uva on Wednesday at UNHCR's headquarters in Geneva.

"No matter where in the world I travel for UNHCR -- refugee camps, settlements, towns and cities -- I see how football has the extraordinary ability to unite people around a common passion. Through our partnership with UEFA, we hope to use the power of football to connect displaced people and the communities that host them", Grandi said.

"Sport provides an opportunity for refugee children and youth to be included -- it also has the transformative power to rebuild lives and inspire positive values", he added.

An impact on the daily life of refugees

The institutional partnership with UNHCR underlines UEFA's commitment to social responsibility, a newly-added pillar of the overall UEFA strategy. Michele Uva from the UNHCR stressed that the partnership will also "reflect our responsibility to ensure European football's support to these important topics for civil society."

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said the cooperation protocol is "an impactful way to further strengthen football as a powerful tool to foster sustainable social inclusion of refugees and enhance social cohesion.

"The partnership with UNHCR builds on UEFA's already extensive work in this area, including through initiatives and programs of the UEFA Foundation for Children. Most importantly, our joint activities will have a real impact on the daily lives of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons."

 

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