Europe’s leaders urged to harness the power of sport to integrate refugees and migrants

Article by the Council of Europe’s Director General of Democracy, Snežana Samardžić-Marković 

On World Refugee Day our thoughts naturally turn to the plight of asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution, but it is also an opportunity to think of the next stage, how to contribute towards their successful integration, which is one of the main challenges facing our continent today.

Increasingly Europe’s leaders are realising that sport has a very important role to play in the integration of migrants and refugees.

Sport has immense symbolic power. It is universal. It helps heal trauma. It unites people across ages, cultures, social backgrounds and borders. People once rejected as strangers, or rivals, are accepted, because they play the same sport, support the same team, take part in the same event or represent the same country. In some cases they become stars, with fans queuing for their autographs.

In particular, the Council of Europe has made integrating migrants through sport part of its Action Plan on Building Inclusive Societies, running from 2016 to 2019, and, the subject is a priority for our Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), which combats abuse in sport.

Article published on NEWEUROPE website.

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