Reception Centres for asylum seekers to be visited by professional footballers throughout Finland
"There is no point in reinventing the wheel. Show Racism the Red Card is an international campaign that talks about these issues frankly. We too hope that the Finnish sport fans would stand united under these same symbols."
Markus Juhola, Executive manager, FPA.
Show Racism the Red Card (Finland) is involved in an exciting project, bringing people together through football.
This summer, the Finnish Immigration Service and the Football Players Association of Finland (FPA), the representative organisation for football players in Finland, take the most popular sport in the world to reception centres to enrich the everyday lives of asylum seekers.
The aim of the “Football belongs to everyone” tour is not only to bring football to asylum seekers but also to promote the realisation of equality and justice at reception centres and in our society in general.
Equality and justice are among the basic values of the Finnish Immigration Service, reception centres and the FPA. ”Diversity is valued in Finland as we become more international. Non-discrimination and equality are common values”, is stated also in the preliminary vision of the Future of immigration 2020 strategy.
The Finnish Immigration Service and the FPA believe that football can bring people together in a positive way regardless of age, sex or ethnic background.
FPA to visit reception centres
The Football belongs to everyone tour kicks off at the Oulu Reception Centre 3rd June and ends in the end of August in Espoo. This summer, members of FPA, that is, Finnish top football players will visit almost all reception centres in Finland. Players from local teams will take part in the events organised at the reception centres.
At the events, players will talk not only about football, but also about the work being done both inside and outside of the football field against discrimination and racism as well as their own experiences from the point of view of equality. The rest of the day is full of action as the players introduce some hints and tricks of football to asylum seekers.
FPA will also record a few of the events and produce the material into a documentary that will be released in the autumn.
The schedule of the tour is listed at the end of this bulletin. Reception centres will inform local media of the specific events closer to the scheduled date of the event.
Finland currently has 20 reception centres and 10 units for minor asylum seekers. In 2012, there were approximately 4,000 registered asylum seekers out of which around 120 were unaccompanied minors.
Tournament for reception centres in Turku
In addition to the tour at the reception centres, the programme this summer includes the traditional Finnish championship tournament, which is held between the reception centres. This year, the tournament is held in Turku 12–13 June. On the second day of the tournament, there will be an All stars match between the asylum seekers that have played the best and most fair game during the tournament and a team of Finnish top football players.
The patron for both the tour at the reception centres and the Finnish championship tournament is the former player for the Finland national football team, Hannu Tihinen. Currently, Tihinen is the chairman of FPA.
Show Racism the Red Card
International field of football as a whole has been tackling intolerance and racism for a long time. The Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC), which consists of representatives from national associations (UEFA), teams (ECA), leagues (EPFL) and players (FIFPro), passed a resolution unanimously in March 2013. The aim of the resolution is to weed out racism from football by any means necessary. The parties accepted unanimously a stricter programme to achieve zero tolerance.
The Finnish Multicultural Sports Federation FIMU has made pioneering work for multiculturalism and against racism through sports. FIMU represents the international Show Racism the Red Card campaign in Finland, and there has been a lot of activity related to this campaign on the football field. In Finland, a red card has been shown at racism at football matches at different levels of the league with players setting an example already since 2006. FIMU aims at gathering representatives from various sports, teams and associations under commonly recognised symbols.
– There is no point in reinventing the wheel. Show Racism the Red Card is an international campaign that talks about these issues frankly. We too hope that the Finnish sport fans would stand united under these same symbols, says Markus Juhola, Executive manager of FPA.
Internationality is common on playing fields
Finnish football fields are almost as international as reception centres. All Finns are familiar with Eremenko, Kuqi and the Hetemaj brothers who have been part of the Finland national football team and who all come from an immigrant background. The zero tolerance for discrimination is an essential rule on the playing field and in football changing rooms as well as in reception centres.
Football is all about being together, mutual respect and exercise conducive to health; it is not just about competing. Football is also not just for men; women and children also play football. Currently, there are 120,000 registered football players in Finland, and in terms of the number of women and girls who play football as a hobby, football is the most rapidly growing sport in Finland.