Germany win first ever UNITY EURO Cup
UEFA and UNHCR joined forces to stage a special eight-team tournament at the UEFA HQ to highlight football's role in strengthening ties between refugees and their host communities.
Germany triumphed on penalties after a 2-2 draw against Switzerland in the final of the very first Unity Euro Cup – a new tournament launched by UEFA and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to promote refugee inclusion.
The tournament featured football teams consisting of a mix of refugee and national amateur players, both female and male, from eight UEFA National Associations: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Malta, Republic of Ireland, France, and Switzerland.
“This beautiful tournament can remind us how much impact sport has on our daily lives, in this case, the ones of the refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. Strong messages of love and tolerance were sent from the UNITY EURO Cup, amplifying what the UNHCR and UEFA partnership stands for. It perfectly builds on UEFA's already extensive work in this area, including initiatives and programmes of the UEFA Foundation for Children,” said UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin.
“It is challenging to start your life over in a new place, as not all the new environments are always warm and welcoming at first sight. However, what helps us integrate and bond with others are the familiarities, such as football. Football communities can make a genuine difference in everybody's lives by allowing access to organised football activities, initiatives, and events. No one, especially young athletes, should be denied the opportunity to be part of this magnificent sport, either as an amateur or an elite prospect,” he added.
I cannot think of a better way to learn more about each other than through the game itself. The game helps us grow together rather than drifting us apart. There are too many walls in the world already; we need more bridges,” he concluded.
This new tournament is the perfect example of how football can play a key role in society.
“When people are forced to flee their homes, they don’t leave behind their aspirations and interests. Sport, and football in particular can play an essential role in helping to create a sense of normality, especially for children and youth, enabling them to adapt to their new lives, be included in their new communities, and reignite their hopes and dreams,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.
“UNHCR is proud to work alongside UEFA to use the power of football to build a better future for refugees and other displaced people around the world,” he added.
Refugee support is one of UEFA’s key human rights policies in UEFA’s new sustainability strategy, Strength Through Unity. Therefore, last year UEFA signed a cooperation protocol with UNHCR, supporting refugee access to sport and enhancing social inclusion.
The UNITY EURO Cup demonstrated and celebrated football’s power to assist refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people to be included into their host community, breaking down barriers and creating a spirit of welcome, while helping them to remain physically and mentally healthy.
UEFA Chief Refereeing Officer Roberto Rosetti, who took charge of the EURO 2008 final, officiated the tournament’s final. Each of the squads was accompanied by an illustrious ambassador from the footballing world, with local children and families able to watch the action at the Colovray Stadium in Nyon, Switzerland.
UNHCR protects people forced to flee their homes because of conflict, violence, and persecution. It is present in over 130 countries, protecting millions of people by responding with life-saving support, safeguarding fundamental human rights and helping them build a better future.
Note to media:
Pictures of the tournament can be downloaded here for editorial use only.