Location and general information
In 2017, there were an estimated 303,000 migrants in the Maghreb region, for a broad variety of reasons. The majority of vulnerable migrants are from sub-Saharan Africa and suffer racial discrimination from local populations, fuelled by prejudices and stereotypes about their status and origins. The discrimination also feeds on and exacerbates forms of social exclusion that can have serious consequences for migrants such as ghettoisation, physical violence or human rights violations. However, the social exclusion of migrants also has negative effects on host societies with consequences such as a degradation in social cohesion, an increase in violence, social and political instability or underuse of the migrant labour force.
The focus is on integration through sport. For many young people around the world, football is an ideal and a way to climb the social ladder. It is an extremely popular sport in the Maghreb region. The project promotes the inclusion of migrants in host societies through the shared practice of football, with the aim of fighting racial discrimination in vulnerable communities in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Aimed at migrant youth and host communities, the project football to foster integration and reduce potential tensions between communities. This project corresponds to UEFA's vision and objectives, fighting racial discrimination by promoting tolerance and diversity in the region.
Sports activities enable marginalised individuals to reintegrate into society, regain a sense of normality and security, and re-establish social relationships. In short, sport is an excellent bridge over the social divide.
Giving migrants and local community members the opportunity to share an activity like sport enables both groups to change their perceptions of each other. Shared experiences can rehumanise those who are perceived as opponents off the field. Sport will then lower the barriers of difference and mistrust by showing that everyone can play together safely and share a love of sport. This is more significant as sport (and especially football) is common to everyone, regardless of their geographical origin. Sport becomes a real creator of social bonds, camaraderie, even friendship. In addition, this social link can be a vector of social stability and cohesion between communities.
As mentioned, many migrants suffer from social stigma and are marginalised. Trapped in this isolated situation, sport can help renew social contacts. As it is an accessible gateway for the most isolated individuals, sport can encourage their commitment to society by enabling them to discover the host society, learn socio-cultural codes, practice the language and develop a network. Sport can even be a first step towards mainstream integration, paving the way for other opportunities, including access to a stable job.
The main activities are:
- Supporting the inclusion of migrants in existing football leagues and tournaments
- Refurbishing/building football pitches in these regions and hosting tournaments
- Providing local teams with sports material
- Creating new competitions if needed
- Training coaches with appropriate tools and competences, focusing on promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as fighting against social and racial discrimination
In every project, the IOM will look carefully into respecting gender equality and giving access to people with special needs.
Beneficiaries of the above-mentioned activities will be young people from migrant and host communities. Thanks to improved pitches and materials, better trained coaches and the opportunity to take part in friendly competitions, migrants in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia will be better included in their communities thanks to the peaceful and social power of sport.
Special attention will be paid to the project’s sustainability strategy to make sure the initiative is adapted to local preferences and interests and acknowledge likely cultural and resource constraints.
Finally, the IOM will ensure the project is not a stand-alone initiative and that there is coordination between established sports structures and development stakeholders. Before developing or refurbishing facilities, the IOM will ensure that a third party (governmental or non-governmental) commits to the upkeep and maintenance of the facility after project termination. Further, the IOM will not only partner with elite athletes in the respective countries, but also with local sports leaders and community coaches due to the influential roles they play in their communities, in particular with young people. The involvement of such stakeholders will maximise the likelihood that the project will continue to have an impact after it is completed.