When many of us think about professional football, the distressing spectre of racial abuse comes to mind. You could be forgiven for believing that the sport once described by Pele as ‘the beautiful game’ has been scarred by prejudice, and that such a cesspit of raw discrimination would be the very last place a migrant would want to be in close proximity to. Only, it isn’t. The fact is, almost everywhere you look there is a migrant presence in the sport: players, supporters, pundits…
The profession has benefitted enormously from migrant talent and rewarded many migrants handsomely. Take, for example, the English Premier League. This season, players from 62 different nations are registered with its 20 football clubs. The players come from practically every continent in the world (Antarctica being the one exception). There is something to celebrate in the way the sport of football has welcomed and integrated so many young men into its world. Arguably, no other profession on the planet has been as welcoming to foreigners.
A new football song launch at Refugee Week 2020
There are so many other examples of fans worshipping their migrant heroes that we thought we should take a closer look. Hence, Sing When We’re Winning, the Positive Power of Football Chants, Counterpoint’s long table conversation that, using terrace chants as a catalyst, will take a look at some of the good things to come out of football for migrant communities. And it’s not stopping there. PopChange, Lady Leshurr and Fans for Diversity has put together a number of fans who have been tasked with actually writing their own pro-migrant football chant. We’ll be launching the song and videos as part of Refugee Week 2020.
Ultimately football is more a force for good than the opposite. It may be in need of a touch of make-up, but in many ways, the beautiful game retains its looks.