In a unique event that has never been seen before in Russia, the Fare network and the Russian Civic Assistance committee will hold a football tournament on Red Square with refugees living in Russia (on Tuesday 3rd July) to highlight the plight of displaced peoples in the country.
The refugees will play a series of matches with local fans in mixed teams with men and women, to showcase the power of football to break down barriers. For people who have fled wars and persecution, football is often one of the very few familiar activities and means to build friendships in their new home.
The refugees on Red Square have arrived from Syria, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and the Cote D’Ivoire. Playing alongside the refugees will be Alexey Smertin, the former Russia international midfielder and anti-discrimination commissioner for the World Cup.
On International Refugee Day on June 20th, the Fare network presented a World Cup 2018 Refugee XI for International Refugee Day on June 20, celebrating players with refugee stories from the national teams competing in Russia.
Piara Powar, Executive Director of Fare, said: ”At the heart of Fare’s work is tackling discrimination in football and using football as a means of social inclusion. An event of this kind on Red Square is unheard of, and we hope can have real significance in highlighting the plight of refugees in Russia.”
Svetlana Gannushkina, Nobel prize nominee and head of the Civic Assistance Committee commented: “Of all the refugees Russia has in the country, only 592 have been granted refugee status. Only two of them are Syrian citizens. Despite having good skills and the willingness to work and integrate, the refugees cannot easily apply them here and make a decent new life for themselves.”
1. The event takes place on Tuesday (3rd July) at 12:30PM Moscow time at the FIFA World Cup Football Park on Red Square.
2. The Fare network is an umbrella of 124 NGOs, fans groups, ethnic minority organisations, LGBT+ groups and others from 39 countries.
Fare has been promoting a message of diversity and anti- discrimination at football mega events, since the European Championship in 2004. Before the World Cup, Fare launched a Guide for ethnic minority and LGBT+ fans coming to Russia, a helpline for minorities and opened two Diversity Houses in Moscow and St. Petersburg with match screenings and events with Russian civil society groups.
3. Civic Assistance Committee is a Moscow based charitable organization aimed at helping refugees and forced migrants, established in 1990. From the outset, the organization has acted as mediator between migrants and official structures providing the former with legal assistance (including in courts), defending their social rights as well as offering humanitarian aid to those in need.
Chaired by the multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominee Svetlana Gannushkina, the Committee is working with refugees and asylum seekers from both CIS countries and the rest of the world who found themselves in Russia.
4. For more information contact Jonathan Fadugba at Jonathan.Fadugba@farenet.org.
(Image credit: salomonrbc)