This report contains input from 14 national football associations, including Scotland (pages 19, 28, and 36), outlining their experiences with refugees and providing recommendations and advice for the wider football community. The purpose is to highlight how football can function as a powerful social phenomenon that can help benefit the process of integration for refugees.
The Scottish Football Association launched the Diversity and Inclusion Project in 2012. It was established with the aim of increasing football opportunities for minority communities by building capacity and delivering cultural and religious awareness training to grassroots clubs. It also targeted specific groups such as refugees and ethnic minority females, removing barriers by providing free participation centres and initiatives.
The project helped contribute to increased understanding and awareness within grassroots clubs about how they can provide a more inclusive environment that considers potential linguistic, cultural and religious differences. It has benefitted minority communities by increasing opportunities, developing skills and confidence, improving communication, enhancing cohesion and promoting mutual respect. An increasing number of girls are attending the scheme each week, with an increasing number gaining coaching qualifications.
We have only provided details on the Scottish FA approach but also recommend looking at the examples from different countries for a broader perspective. It is also worth remembering that the report has a significant positive bias and does little to engage with the possible negatives and challenges. However, it does highlight the extensive reach of football within a diverse multicultural community. Other sporting organisations might be interested in the methods employ, and how they might better provide a more inclusive environment to help foster engagement with their own sports. Policy makers will also benefit in examining how such programmes can contribute to greater social cohesion and better integrate minority communities.