Lausanne (AFP) – Around 120 asylum seekers and refugees in Switzerland will next week compete in a football tournament organised with the backing of UEFA, organisers said Wednesday.
This first “inter-migrant” contest is being organised by Hospice Generale, a Geneva-based charity established in 1535, together with local authorities in the town of Nyon, where UEFA, the governing body of European football, is headquartered.
The migrants will be divided into 16 teams of 10 players each, said the project’s coordinator, Michel Nicolet.
“They mostly come from Eritrea and Ethiopia. There are also Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and West Africans,” he said.
Nicolet explained that the players live in centres in Geneva, Lausanne and Nyon. They include asylum seekers and others whose request for asylum has been granted.
“Sport, and in particular football, is an important way in to host communities for migrants,” said Nicolet, adding that he was inspired by the Refugee Olympic Team that competed in Rio earlier this year.
The contest kicks off on September 14 on pitches outside UEFA’s headquarters.
“Football being both a means to inclusion as well as a driver of self-confidence, UEFA is pleased to host this refugee tournament,” said the organisation’s interim secretary general Theodore Theodoridis.