Southampton is proud to be joining football clubs across the country this weekend to celebrate the contribution refugees have made to football, as part of a new Amnesty International initiative.
Football Welcomes is a weekend of action that marks the 80th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of some of the first refugees to play professional football here. They were child refugees from the Spanish Civil War, who were evacuated to the UK after the bombing of Guernica on 26th April 1937.
Supported by a range of Premier League clubs, the Football League and the FA Women’s Super League, Football Welcomes also aims to highlight the important role clubs can play in promoting community cohesion.
Three Spanish Civil War refugee footballers played for Saints – Sabin Barinaga (1938-39), Raimundo Perez Lezama (1939-40) and Jose Gallego (1948-50), and, as well as highlighting the stories of some of those on our website, the club will also be providing free tickets to next weekend’s home game against Hull City to a number of refugees living locally.
Football Welcomes is part of Amnesty International’s ‘I Welcome’ campaign for a better international response to the global refugee crisis. The campaign encourages local communities to work together to create a more welcoming environment for people fleeing conflict and persecution.
Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: “Refugees have made an important contribution to this much-loved game and their communities throughout the years.
“We are delighted that so many football clubs, who lie at the heart of these communities, are embracing this. They have a key role to play in helping to promote respect, understanding and integration.”