Olympiacos FC and Harvard University Present Special Conference to Discuss Soccer’s Social Responsibility to Refugees

Olympiacos FC and Harvard University Present Special Conference to Discuss Soccer’s Social Responsibility to Refugees and Other Vulnerable Groups in a Globalized World

  • Conference, “Reinforcing, Crossing, and Transcending Borders: Soccer in a Globalized World” will take place in Athens September 4th-6th, 2017
  • Jointly organized by Olympiacos FC and its President Evangelos Marinakis, and Harvard University. Supported by Simmons College
  • Will focus on the power of soccer, as the most global game, to transcend borders and bring people together, regardless of race, gender, religion, culture or nationality
  • Calls on the world’s biggest soccer clubs and other organizations to encourage and facilitate the participation of displaced people, whatever their civil status
  • Senator George John Mitchell Jr., well known for his roles in the Northern Ireland and Middle East peace process, will address the conference on the refugee issue, and how football can help
  • The conference further urges the establishment of “An International Day of the Right to Play” to affirm the right to participate in sport as a universal and fundamental right

ATHENS, 30th August—Olympiacos FC is delighted to announce that it is hosting a major conference in partnership with Harvard University to promote the social responsibility of the sport of soccer, particularly in relation to refugees and other vulnerable groups.

The conference, entitled “Reinforcing, Crossing, and Transcending Borders: Soccer in a Globalized World” will take place in Athens September 4th- 6th, 2017.

The event will feature remarks from Senator George John Mitchell Jr., former United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland and the Middle East; and Evangelos Marinakis, President of Olympiacos FC and a leading Greek businessman. It will feature a number of other high profile speakers.

The conference is part of Harvard University’s Weatherhead Initiative on Global History and is also being supported by Simmons College of Boston, MA.

The guiding principle of the conference is that, as the most globalised sport by far, soccer has a unique power to transcend borders and bring people together, regardless of race, gender, religion, culture or nationality.

As such, the discussions over the course of the conference will focus upon how soccer can contribute to community building in a range of scenarios; how the sport relates to citizenship and belonging; and the phenomenon of transnational fandom.

Themes will include the role of soccer in peace-building and conflict resolution as well as the sport’s role in Africa.

A key premise for the work of the conference is that: the largest soccer teams now have worldwide followings and passionate groups of supporters who come from different social backgrounds, and from many different countries. This broad base of support contributes to clubs’ widespread presence in social media and to the increased attention that they now receive from the traditional media.

This expanded visibility has given clubs, their players and their administrators a unique opportunity to influence public debate and to embrace their social responsibility as a key part of their role and contribution within the global community.

The social responsibility of clubs extends to ensuring that as many people as possible are able to play the game they love, without encountering discrimination or prejudice.

Every human being has a fundamental right to participate in sport without discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, or national or social origin. Furthermore, no distinction should be made on the basis of the political or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs. Clubs and sport associations should actively campaign against and refuse to engage in any such discrimination at both youth and professional levels.

Initiatives that encourage the participation of displaced people, whatever their civil status, in sporting activities should be supported.

The conference urges soccer clubs and associations to agree to encourage greater participation in sport in conflict ridden or economically depressed areas and, when possible, to contribute financial resources, including providing used but appropriate equipment for the use of those people who lack adequate resources to participate in sport.

An International Day of the Right to Play should be declared to affirm the right to participate in sport as a universal and fundamental right and to promote the principles set out in this Declaration.

The responsibility of clubs and their players in promoting universal participation is even more crucial at a time when the number of displaced people in the world escaping conflict or persecution has reached its highest point in history.

Evangelos Marinakis, President of Olympiacos FC commented:

“The world’s leading soccer clubs are now among the most powerful and influential institutions in society. It is vital that they embrace their responsibility to their communities, and to the global community, by promoting concrete actions and initiatives that have the power to change the lives of everyday people.

At a local level, Olympiacos has for some time been active in developing and implementing programmes to provide material assistance to displaced persons. It is time for the sport of soccer across the whole of Europe and beyond, to use its power to help those most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our midst.”

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

 

Please see attached conference programme and declaration

 

Contact Details:

Olympiacos F.C.

Kostas Vernikos

Head of International Relations