Football Welcomes

Fri 21 Apr 2017

Paul Robinson sums up Amnesty International initiative

AFC Wimbledon will be joining football clubs across the country this weekend to celebrate the contribution refugees have made to football, as part of a new Amnesty International initiative.

Football Welcomes, a weekend of action for football clubs coordinated by Amnesty, marks the 80th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of some of the first refugees to play professional football here. They were child refugees from the Spanish Civil War, evacuated to the UK after the bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937.

Supported by the English Football League, a range of Premier League clubs and the FA Women’s Super League, Football Welcomes also aims to highlight the important role football clubs can play in promoting community cohesion.

Clubs around the country will be offering free tickets for a match to refugees living locally, arranging player visits or stadium tours or organising tournaments for young refugees in their community programmes.

AFC Wimbledon centre-back Paul Robinson said: “There are some situations that people have had to suffer in their lives that are really tough. Football is such an inclusive game and it’s open to everyone. It will help the refugees to integrate into their local communities. I know how much joy football can provide: it can bring that chink of light and enjoyment into people’s lives. It is a great initiative and it is brilliant that football is a part of it.”

Click on the link above to view a video clip of Paul talking about the Football Welcomes initiative.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said: “Refugees have made an important contribution to this much-loved game and their communities throughout the years. We are delighted that so many football clubs, who lie at the heart of these communities, are embracing this. They have a key role to play in helping to promote respect, understanding and integration.

“Eighty years on from the bombing of Guernica in the Spanish Civil War, horrific violence is again forcing many people to flee their homes, leaving everything behind as they look for safety elsewhere. We’re very pleased to be working with football clubs to help make refugees who have come to the UK feel welcome. This is the first year of Football Welcomes and we’d love it to become a key fixture in the football calendar for years to come.”

Football Welcomes is part of Amnesty International’s 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.

Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights organisation with seven million supporters worldwide.

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