The six winners of the 2019/20 UEFA Football and Refugees Grant Scheme have been announced, each receiving €50,000 towards integrating migrants into society through football.
The available grants were awarded to the football associations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Iceland, Romania, Sweden and Turkey following an evaluation process by a jury of experts, including UEFA representatives and a member of the Council of Europe.
The initiative, overseen by UEFA’s Football and Social Responsibility (FSR) unit, not only provides opportunities for migrants to play football, it encourages associations to supply training to develop coaches and referees, as well as important guidance and care for participants away from the pitch.
Innovative approaches to inclusion
Entries were judged on how well associations demonstrated an evaluation of the needs of asylum seekers and refugees, as well as their approach to devising innovative approaches to key areas relating to inclusion, such as:
• Maintaining physical and mental health
• Personal development
• Language skills
• Access to the labour market
A growing list of success stories
The 2019/20 edition is the third year UEFA has operated the Football and Refugees Grant Scheme. Previous winners include Belgium, Germany, Italy, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and Switzerland.
Ousama Tahineh has benefited from the scheme in Norway through the Fotballklubben Voss club.
“I wanted Norwegian friends, so I was motivated by the eight boys in my class who played football,” he said. “The club made me feel safe and welcome. I also wanted to improve my health and follow structured training sessions, as I had never done this before. The training was also really good language practice for me, and I have made many good friends through playing football. I still play, and I am now also the main coach of a boys’ team.”
Ousama’s case is just one example of the many ways football can contribute to making life better for people who were forced to flee their home country.
UEFA has been addressing the plight of refugees since 2016, putting different measures in place to promote the inclusion of refugees into their host society, using football as a vehicle for change.
In 2018, following a series of knowledge-sharing seminars, UEFA published a collection of good practices on football and refugees, helping member associations to assist migrants through the world’s most popular sport.
How else does UEFA fund FSR activity to benefit refugees and asylum seekers?
As well as the Football and Refugees Grant Scheme, the UEFA HatTrick FSR programme provides each of European football’s 55 national associations with an annual €100,000 grant to help develop social and environmental projects.
HatTrick is one of the largest solidarity and development programmes ever established by a sports body. The ring-fenced HatTrick FSR incentive payments ensure important work reaches the game’s stakeholders across Europe, allowing associations to develop their own social responsibility strategy addressing one of 13 social and environmental topics. The topic of diversity and inclusion encourages associations to foster fair treatment and meaningful involvement of every individual, while embracing differences in race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, culture, national origin, income or ability.
Further research into refugees and football
UEFA has also funded further research into the relationship between football and refugees. The organisation has backed a project supported by the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) as part of the 2019/20 UEFA Research Grant Programme. The initiative was designed for academics working in partnership with national associations to deliver research that improves strategic decision-making in European football.
Further information on the Refugee Grant Scheme and the organisation’s far-reaching FSR work features in UEFA’s Football and Social Responsibility report for 2018/19 .
Find out here how the UEFA Foundation for Children helps child refugees all over the world.