Solidarity football initiatives take over holiday season22 December 2014

AroundtheglobefootballinitiativesaremobilisingeffortstobringcomfortandhelpcommunitiesinneedduringtheChristmasandHolidayseason.

The solidarity initiatives are diverse and span across the different levels of the sport to address issues, including, homelessness, poverty and the living conditions of refugees and migrants.

Improving the lives of refugees
In October, the launch of the European initiative ‘Second Fan Shirt‘ gathered the support of several fan groups and clubs across Germany, England, Spain, Austria, Ukraine, Turkey, Croatia and Denmark. The campaign, which consists of the donation and consequent auction of club merchandising, including football kits and scarves, is raising money to fund refugee aid programmes and centres in Europe.

Earlier this month, a renovated sports centre in Tripoli, Lebanon, was inaugurated by the AC Milan legend Franco Baresi as part of the United Nations (UN) work to further the inclusion and living conditions of refugees in the country.

Franco Baresi said: “It was amazing to see the results achieved, such as the rehabilitation of safe play spaces like the Btekhnay Sport Centre and the training of 45 coaches,

“It was also a really touching experience to see the children play, enjoy themselves and smile after so much pain. This is further evidence that sport is a really powerful tool to promote integration and peace,”

The renovation of the sports centre was made under the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) project ‘Sports for Peace’ aimed at helping young Syrian refugees overcome trauma of their displacement.

Initiatives worldwide 

Brazil
In Palmas, state of Tocantins, and Anápolis, state of Goiás, football matches are using the influence of local singers and players to raise money and resources, including food and toys, for local NGOs.

Similarly, on 13 December, in Araçariguama, São Paulo, Anderson Salles and Rafael Silva, players of the professional club Vasco da Gama organised a friendly match to collect food for local associations.

Over the weekend, the fans of the Série B team Joinville Esporte Clube (JEC) organised men and women’s solidarity matches, at the team’s ground, to mark the end of the season and celebrate the charity programme Futebol Solidário, through which every 14 days the players of the club offer a food basket to a low-income household.

France
On 13 December, the amateur club Saint-Cyprien partnered up with the football authorities of Pyrénées-Orientales, southern France, in solidarity with the French food bank Restos du Cœur. The football festival gathered 130 children of different local clubs.

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On the same day in the French region of Deux-Sèvres, near Nantes, the Under 7 and Under 8 teams of the local clubs Échiré, Saint-Florent and Chamois Niortais also contested a similar football tournament to also raise funds for Restos du Cœur.

On 20 December, the Nantes sporting organisation Football-club de Rezé (FCR) held a solidarity event to collect books and toys for children in the Burkina Faso in partnership with the Ouagadougou-based foundation Charles-Dufour. The team’s jerseys and other football resources will feature among the goodies to be sent to the West African country. A football party and tournament were also held as part of the initiative.

“Solidarity and generosity are core values of a people’s club like ours” said the FCR President Marie-Hélène Baudry, adding “Solidarity is a force that help us move forward”.

Germany 
In Germany, a campaign, organised by the fans of Fortuna Düsseldorf, is collecting clothes and donations to support initiatives that look after homeless people. The fan group is also promoting the ‘Second Fan Shirt’ initiative.

On their last home match before the winter break the 2. Bundesliga side FSV Frankfurt invited 220 refugees to come to the stadium and experience the environment of a match day.

KSV Lützkendorf, a team composed of 13 migrants, and other initiatives, including an evening of sporting activities promoted by the Cologne FA, also highlighted the contributes of migrants to football.

Italy
On 20 December, a charity football match in Roma brought together members of the Parliament, the Italian Minister of the Interior, Angelino Alfano, prosecutors and RAI journalists. Over 300 children of local grassroots clubs attended the event.

Days earlier (on 3 December), a tournament was organised by the Tennis Club Parioli to celebrate initiatives that support disabled people.

This week, the association Angeli Bianchi onlus, Calabria, is organising a 5-a-side charity tournament and food and clothes collection.

Portugal
In Mafra, the children of the football programme Mini-futebol participated in a series of recreational activities in solidarity with the local organisations Casa Mãe do Gradil and Centro de Acolhimento Temporário. Each youngster helped by donating essential goods.

The top tier club Belenenses is promoting a raffle drawing to offer a Christmas food basket and collect money to the club’s programme that offers tickets to underprivileged fans.

Spain
The Spanish website locosxelfutbol.es is organising a beneficent football tournament between 27 and 28 December in Madrid. Each participating team will donate a kg of food for each player to the Spanish Red Cross.

In the capital of the Aragon region, Zaragoza, the amateur club La Cartuja F.C is running its fourth solidarity tournament, 3-4December, to collect toys, food and clothes. The tournament will bring together children of the city’s grassroots clubs.

Between 22-27 December, Málaga is hosting its 15th Christmas tournament that will be contested by a number of the council’s youth teams.

The NGO Soccer Without Borders and the women’s team of Atlético de Madrid played a solidarity match on Sunday, 21 December. The event aimed to collect donations to support the work of the international NGO in promoting social change through football and helping children in Nicaragua and Uganda.

On 27 December, in Valverde de Leganés, Badajoz, a match will be played between a team of Roma players and representatives of the Spanish National Guard. The initiative is collecting money to be distributed among local food banks.

KSV Lützkendorf