German club wins inaugural European refugee cup




 

A German club with players from 24 nations won an inaugural UEFA tournament for mixed refugee teams on Wednesday in Nyon.

The eight-team Unity Europe Cup was jointly organised by the governing body of European football and the UNHCR, the United Nations' refugee agency, "to highlight football's role in strengthening ties between refugees and their host communities."

FC Motor Neubrandenburg Sud won on penalties, beating Swiss team SRD Galaica-Onex, after a 2-2 draw on a day when temperatures reached 30 degrees Celsius.

They won a trophy presented jointly by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

The tournament, held at UEFA headquarters, drew eight teams each with 70 per cent refugee players. The other entrants were from Italy, France, Malta, Austria, Belgium and Ireland.

The final was preceded by a women's game.

The plan is to stage the tournament "every year or every two years", Monica Namy, UEFA's social responsibility manager told AFP.

She said UEFA hopes to add "more teams", a women's tournament and to "inspire and support" aid by the 55 European federations to asylum seekers.

UEFA launched a refugee-support programme "after the wave of migration of 2015-2016", Namy said, to "allow refugees to play football".

"A lot of federations are now integrating refugees into referee or coach training," she added.

She said the programme can help refugees develop social networks and find work or offer refugees roles as club administrators or volunteers.

The eight sides were put together in different ways.

The finalists are long-established clubs. FC Motor are based in Neubrandenburg, 130 kilometres north of Berlin, and play in the Mecklenburg regional leagues.

FC Onex plays in a cantonal league in Geneva.

The French squad, which finished fourth, was rapidly put together for the tournament and strengthened by Laura Georges, the secretary general of the French Football Federation, and a former international with 188 caps.

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