Recognizing the power of sport in bringing people together, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Malmö FF today announce a partnership towards strengthening refugee integration and inclusion in the city of Malmö, Sweden.
Malmö FF is pledging to increase employment opportunities for refugees by committing to employ 50 refugees in their Food & Beverage and Service Organization by 2023.
In addition, Malmö FF – together with the City of Malmö, through their established co-work – will provide opportunities for refugee children and youth to participate in the “Equal value for all/School football against racism”-activities.
These initiatives will lead to better integration and inclusion of refugees for the benefit of the community and the refugees themselves, allowing them to rebuild their lives and thrive in their new home city.
The steps now taken to formally submit pledges to a global platform, managed by UNHCR – as the first sports club in Sweden – bear witness to years of community engagement and social responsibility, guiding Malmö FF in a wide range of activities. The football club is committed to counter racism, strengthen integration, fight unemployment, and connect different groups in society.
“Malmö is a city full of opportunities, but also challenges. Malmö FF is a strong force in the city, and we have the possibility to take on different societal challenges and be a part of the solution to solve them,” says Niclas Carlnén, CEO of Malmö FF. “Social responsibility is in our DNA and we have several examples in our history where we have engaged ourselves with refugees, e.g. our chairman of the board saving 7,000 Danish Jews from the German occupation of Denmark during WWII, and in 2015 when Malmö was the first point of entry for a large number of refugees. It is natural for us to engage ourselves with this target group.”
In recent years, UNHCR has increasingly been partnering with sport entities on both the local, national and international levels. In June this year, UNHCR signed a Cooperation protocol with UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, to establish long-term initiatives to support and assist refugees and other displaced people through football. Participation in sport – with its significant potential to positively impact health, wellbeing, and inclusion – can help refugees build better futures.
“Football and sport have a unique unifying power in society. It makes a difference, for the community and in people’s lives, when Malmö FF, this year’s Swedish champions, stands with refugees and commits to support integration efforts,” says Henrik M. Nordentoft, UNHCR’s Representative to the Nordic and Baltic countries. “We hope that the strong and bold engagement of Malmö FF will inspire other sports clubs in Sweden to follow their lead.”
With the concrete pledges on refugee integration, Malmö FF is joining a global network comprised of governments, international organizations, civil society, private sector, academia and others to realize the ambitions in the Global Compact on Refugees, adopted by the UN Member States in 2018. This global deal aims at ensuring a better, more solidary, and sustainable response to the record-high level of forced displacement, including by enhancing refugee self-reliance and inclusion.
Since the world’s first Global Refugee Forum was convened by UNHCR in 2019, more than 1,400 pledges of concrete initiatives, projects and support have been announced, bringing the ambitions of the Global Compact to life and into tangible impact for the globally now more than 82 million people forced from their homes due to conflict, violence and persecution.
Today, Malmö FF will participate side by side with refugee athletes and other sport entities in a global webinar, focusing on “Advancing refugee self-reliance via sport”. The event is taking place in the lead up to this week’s High-Level Officials Meeting, hosted by UNHCR. Here, a wide range of stakeholders will take stock of the progress made since the Global Refugee Forum and identify gaps that still need to be addressed in order to achieve solutions for people forced to flee and their hosts.