Football can build support networks for refugees and help integrate them into communities, according to a University of Brighton academic.Dr Mark Doidge, Senior Research Fellow, School of Sport and Service Management, has been awarded almost £15,000 by the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences to run two workshops under the title ‘Refugees Welcome: Football fans & community in Europe’.
The workshops will address how grassroots football clubs and fan groups can build support networks for refugees. The first is expected to be in Paris with the fan-led organisation Football Supporters Europe and will discuss best practices from across Europe, including groups who have worked with refugees.
The second will be held in Brighton to focus on how fans can help integrate refugees into communities.
Dr Doidge said: “Football fans are the focus as they are often one of the first places where socially negative attitudes emerge. Football has been shown to be an excellent way to integrate refugees. Fans are one of the first pan-European movements collectively addressing the refugee issue.
“The programme will bring together fan groups, academics, policy makers, refugees and civil society groups to discuss the current situation, disseminate ideas and strategies, and then produce toolkits for use by fan groups, refugees, UEFA and national federations.”
The British Academy award is one of 29 made through the British Academy’s Rising Star Engagement (BARSEA) Scheme. This scheme provides funding of up to £15,000 to distinguished Early Career Researchers to assist their career development through organising interdisciplinary events for other Early Career Researchers.