Football clubs across the country will be taking part in a weekend of action on April 22/23 to celebrate the contribution refugees have made to the professional game since the Second World War.
ConnectSport is supporting ‘Football Welcomes’, a new Amnesty International initiative involving a range of Premier League clubs, the English Football League and the FA Women’s Super League. It will take place ahead of the 80th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of some of the first refugees to play professional football here – Emilio Aldecoa, Sabin Barinaga, José Bilbao, Raimundo Pérez Lezama, and brothers José and Antonio Gallego. They were unaccompanied child refugees from the Spanish Civil War, evacuated to the UK after the bombing of Guernica on April 26, 1937.
Clubs will organise various activities over the weekend, from offering free tickets to a game for refugees living locally, to putting on a tournament for refugees participating in their community programmes, to arranging a player visit to a community group working with refugees.
‘Football Welcomes’ is part of Amnesty UK’s ‘I Welcome’ campaign for a better international response to the global refugee crisis. The campaign launched in September and has a focus on local activities to promote community cohesion and solidarity with people who have fled conflict and persecution.