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Football Welcomes

⚽ What is Football Welcomes? ⚽ 

Our Football Welcomes programme celebrates the contribution players with a refugee background make to the beautiful game, and the positive role football can play in bringing people together and creating more welcoming communities. 

Everyone wants to live in a place where they feel safe and welcome. For people fleeing conflict and persecution, football can play a hugely important role in helping to settle into a new country and culture, to make friends, learn the language and get to know the local area.

Football clubs are at the heart of many communities - they unite people on and off the pitch and give many a sense of belonging. Every April, football clubs across the UK come together to celebrate the contribution players from a refugee background make to the game.

From the children fleeing the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s - who went on to become some of the first refugees to play professionally in the UK - to the likes of Granit Xhaka, Nadia Nadim and Victor Moses in recent years, refugee players have been making their mark on football for decades.

Over the weekend, clubs from the Premier League, Women’s Super League, Scottish Premiership and grassroots teams across the country put on events and activities to welcome refugees and people seeking asylum in their communities.

Some clubs offer free tickets to a game. Others organise a match or tournament and even arrange a stadium tour. The range of activities are endless.

"I was born in apartheid South Africa and I know how sport, including football, can help to bring people together and break down barriers. I’m really proud that Everton is taking part in Amnesty International’s Football Welcomes weekend." - Steven Pienaar, Former Everton winger

Football Welcomes began in 2017 with 30 clubs participating in the weekend. In 2018 this doubled to 60, and in 2019 the number taking part almost tripled to a record-breaking 177, making it the biggest celebration of football and refugees the UK has ever seen. This included over half the Premier League, two-thirds of English Football League clubs and almost all of the Women’s National League teams.

⚽The Football Welcomes Community Project ⚽ 

Building on the success of the Football Welcomes weekend and the growing interest from football in this area of work in 2019, we are launching the Football Welcomes Community Project.

This exciting new programme, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, will see Amnesty working with Aston Villa Foundation, Club Doncaster Foundation, Leicester City in the Community, Liverpool County FA and Liverpool FC Foundation and Middlesbrough FC Foundation, to set up ‘community alliances’ with other local organisations including refugee groups, charities, amateur football teams, fans’ groups, schools and others.

The aim of the project is to create a more welcoming environment through football, with local organisations working together to help refugees and people seeking asylum develop a sense of belonging as they settle into new communities.

⚽ The Football Welcomes weekend ⚽

Football Welcomes 2019 was the biggest celebration ever of refugees and football in the UK.

This map shows the participating clubs. Did your team take part? 🤔 

Football Welcomes is part of Amnesty International’s I Welcome campaign for a better international response to the global refugee crisis. The campaign encourages local communities to work together to create a more welcoming environment for people fleeing conflict and persecution.

Want to get your local football club involved? Find out how here.

Supported by the players of: