Christmas Appeal Football Scarves for Refugees

01.12.2015

The first Spanish player in the English league? A Basque refugee from the Spanish Civil War. Scorer of Blackpool’s fourth and final goal in the ‘Matthews Cup Final’? A refugee from the racist South African regime. What have Puskas and Zlatan Ibrahimovic got in common? Clue - Ferenc never sported a ponytail. From which Balkan conflicts had members of the Swiss Squad who faced England during the Euro 2016 qualifiers escaped?

Sometimes pub quiz questions have a knack of revealing hidden histories to explain not only the past but the present too. ‘The Football Family’ is an establishment term in football, devoid of almost any meaning or purpose. Guardian Columnist Marina Hyde has pointed out the refugee crisis is a time when the phrase could, and should, acquire some much-needed meaning, saying ‘If such a thing can ever be said to exist, then this issue gripping Europe should be among the very closest to its heart.’ And so Marina’s words inspired Philosophy Football to launch one fans initiative to do precisely that.
 
'Refugees are our football family' was launched by Philosophy Football with the backing of the Football Supporters Federation, Football Action Network, Football Against Racism in Europe, Football Beyond Borders, Kick it Out, the Hope not Hate campaign and the fanzine When Saturday Comes. Philosophy Football designer Hugh Tisdale produced a fundraising T-shirt . Hugh explains ‘The united club colours symbolise football as 'us', not 'me', thats the game at its best a community of localities and nations together.’ With all profits going to Doctors of the World UK who staff the only medical clinic operating in the Calais Refugee Camp and who operate other clinics in refugee camps across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. In just seven days £1000 had been raised. Mark Perryman, with Hugh Philosopohy Football's co-founder, describes the ambition’ Our aim was to raise a lot of money and quickly, going directly to where the help is needed most backed by hundreds, thousands, of fans wearing the message that ours is a football culture that is open, welcoming with a human generosity of spirit.'
 
Raising funds was the principle focus accompanied by a symbolic solidarity. As winter approaches, conditions in the camps will worsen. Fans from every club across Britain and beyond were asked to send in old club scarves. Hundreds arrived, shipped to the Calais Refugee camp from a local aid distribition pick up we liaised with in Bury St Edmunds via Calais Action. With thousands more generously donated by both Aston Villa and Arsenal football clubs, these are being transported for us by container to some of the most precarious refugee camps on the Greek Islands by the charity Woollens. They are on the list of goods the Refugee charities most need and fans helped out with lorryloads of scarves taken to the camp by the charity SKT Welfare. Mark calls these efforts a journey of hope ‘from one home of football a powerful symbol of the kind of humanitarian hospitality all fans can be proud of.'
 
And now, with the coldest months of the year approaching, Philosophy Football have issued a Christmas Football Scarves Appeal appealing once again for more scarves to help refugees, often in unheated accommodation, to have a better Christmas than they might do so otherwise. 
 
Send clean, good condition club scarves to Philosophy Football, PO Box 11140, Harwich CO12 9AP. 
 

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