Football Welcomes: Brentford and QPR to celebrate refugee footballers

Tom Doyle
Getty Images

Brentford's west London derby against QPR will see both clubs join forces to celebrate refugee footballers as part of Amnesty International's 'Football Welcomes' initiative this weekend.

Football Welcomes will be held on 22 and 23 April to mark the 80th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of some of the first refugees to play professional football in the country.

Child refugees from the Spanish Civil War, evacuated to the UK after the bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937, went on to play for Southampton, Coventry City, Wolves, Brentford, Norwich City, Colchester United and Cambridge United.

The initiative is being supported by a number of Premier League clubs as well as AFC Wimbledon, the English Football League, the FA Women’s Super League and Kick It Out.

For Saturday's meeting at Griffin Park, Brentford and QPR are offering free tickets to young people who will wear Amnesty t-shirts saying 'Football Welcomes Refugees' while making up the a guard of honour bringing the players onto the pitch.

James McLynn, youth and communities officer at QPR in the Community Trust, told the club's official website: "The power of football as a universal language and its ability to bring people together is well known.

"QPR recognises the stigma that can be attached to those with refugee status and deems it important to acknowledge the contribution that refugees make to this country past, present and future."

Luke Skelhorn, general manager of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, said: "Brentford FC Community Sports Trust delivers a broad range of sports, education and health projects designed to engage people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures from within our diverse community.

"Some of our past and present participants, staff and volunteers held refugee status and have contributed to our success over the last 30 years."

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: "Refugees have made an important contribution to this much-loved game and to their communities throughout the years. We are delighted that so many football clubs are embracing this.

"They have a key role to play in helping to promote respect, understanding and integration.

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