Kick It Out is proud to support Amnesty International UK's Football Welcomes initiative this weekend to celebrate the contribution refugee players make to the beautiful game.

From a group of children fleeing the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s who went on to become some of the first refugees to play professional football here, to Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren; Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka; Christian Benteke at Crystal Palace; Charlton Athletic’s Liz Ejupi and ex-Manchester City forward Nadia Nadim, players with a refugee background have been making their mark on the game for decades.  

Backed by Premier League clubs across the country as well as the FA Women’s Super League; the English Football League; the FA Women’s National League and grassroots and non-league teams, Football Welcomes also aims to highlight the important role football clubs can play in welcoming refugees and people seeking asylum into their local communities, and in helping them to settle in to a new country and culture.

This year’s event is the biggest yet, with many other clubs offering free match tickets to refugees and people seeking asylum living locally, arranging player visits or stadium tours, or organising a match or tournament for refugees in their community programmes.

 Keeley Baptista, Kick It Out’s Head of Partnerships, said: “We’re pleased to support Football Welcomes which sends a strong message that English football should be open to everyone, regardless of background.

"In a climate of rising hatred across the UK and Europe, it’s important everyone in football is united in welcoming refugees into our country and our game.”

Naomi Westland, Football Welcomes Manager at Amnesty International UK said: “We are delighted that Kick It Out is supporting Football Welcomes. It’s great to see teams and organisations across the UK using the international language of football to create connection, respect and friendship across cultures.

"With so many people across the globe forced to abandon their homes due to conflict and persecution, it’s important that everyone in football sends out a clear message: refugees are welcome here.”