Hundreds of Refugee and Asylum seeker footballers from all over the UK are preparing to travel to Manchester this weekend for a national football festival of sport, music and entertainment. The Unity Cup Festival, organised by FARE partner Kick It Out, will be played over the weekend of the 17th and 18th July at the Armitage Centre in central Manchester.
UK TV stars, poets and football officials will lend their support to the festival over the weekend and Football League referee, Scott Matterson will officiate the Unity Cup final.
The weekend will feature 20 teams of refugees and Asylum seekers based in Birmingham, Cardiff, Dover, Exeter, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, London, Newcastle, Norwich, Sheffield, Southampton, Sunderland and the host city Manchester. As part of the activities, participants will be given advice on asylum rights, how to participate in mainstream football activities including developing links with their local professional clubs and County FA’s.
In recognition of the achievements of those arriving in Britain, teams will be playing for the Unity Cup, Unity Shield and a fair play trophy that will be named the Marc Vivien Foe Award, in memory of the Manchester City and Cameroon midfielder who tragically died on a football field last summer.
Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association), commented,
“In a world were there are so many problems it is great to see football bringing people together and helping to breakdown the negative stereotypes that exists in society.”
Piara Powar, Director of Kick It Out, today said,
“Last year’s Unity Cup was a huge success in bringing together footballers in an act of solidarity through sport for what has rapidly become the most ostracised section of the population in Britain.
This festival conveys a strong message that it is important to stand strong against the negative images and the treatment refugees and asylum seekers are subjected to.”