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Amnesty's 'Football Welcomes' will see 160 UK clubs open their doors to refugees

Football Welcomes, organised by Amnesty, highlights the contributions of refugees to the game [Getty Images]

Date of publication: 23 April, 2019

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Using the loved game of football as a tool for social change, Amnesty International's 'Football Welcome' weekend celebrates the contribution of refugees to the game.
Amnesty's "Football Welcome" weekend, celebrating the contribution refugees make to the sport, will have a record number of football clubs participating, the human rights group said on Tuesday.

Back for its third year, 160 clubs from across the Premier League, English Football League, FA Women's Super League, FA Women's National League and SPFL Trust will take part in activities on 27-28 April across England, Scotland and Wales.

"It's clear that football is a powerful force for good, bringing people together and providing a sense of belonging, and we are delighted that more clubs than ever are taking part in Football Welcomes this year," said Naomi Westland, Football Welcomes Manager at Amnesty International UK.

"With so many people across the globe forced to abandon their homes due to conflict and persecution, this weekend the message from football is clear: refugees are welcome in the UK."

Free match tickets for refugees, player visits, stadium tours, and special matches are among the activities lined up to highlight "the important role football clubs can play in welcoming refugees into their local communities".

"Football Welcome" also celebrates players with refugee backgrounds, among them Liverpool's Dejan Lovren, Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke, Charlton Athletic's Liz Ejupi and ex-Manchester City forward Nadia Nadim.

Surveys reveal football fans have seen an increase in racism and xenophobia in football. In anticipation of the weekend's celebration, Amnesty International called on fans to tackle the scurge.

This month, three supporters of the Chelsea Football Club were banned from the Europa League tie after singing chants that attacked Egyptian player Mohammed Salah with Islamophobic slurs.

The rights group released new data which shows almost a quarter of fans have personally witnessed an increase in racism and xenopobia.

"It can take a lot of integrity and courage to stand up against divisive and hateful actions and rhetoric but as football players, teams and fans it's important we all play our part," said Anita Asante, Amnesty Ambassador and Chelsea defender.

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