Leeds indie rockers Kaiser Chiefs have teamed up with actors and football stars to celebrate the contribution that refugees make to the beautiful game.
The Chiefs joined Sir Patrick Stewart and Juliet Stevenson in showing their solidarity with those fleeing violence, 80 years after a number of refugees arrived in the UK and went on to play professional football.
The celebrities’ support comes after Stoke’s Saido Berahino, Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke and Watford’s Valon Behrami spoke about their experiences as refugees.
Huddersfield Town fan Sir Patrick said: “It’s wonderful to see the footballing community celebrate the contribution of refugees to the beautiful game, while at the same time helping create a more welcoming environment for people who have sought safety on these shores.”
Stevenson said: “We have a legal and moral obligation to protect people fleeing bombs, bullets and tyrants, and throughout history those people have enriched our society.
“It’s great to be celebrating the contribution refugees make to our communities, both on and off the pitch.”
Amnesty International UK’s Football Welcomes initiative, which launches this weekend, will see more than 25 football clubs from across the UK back the cause by offering free tickets or holding tournaments for refugees in their communities.
It comes eight decades after a number of child refugees who fled to Britain during the Spanish civil war went on to play football in England for clubs including Southampton, Coventry City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Brentford and Norwich City.
Kaiser Chiefs bassist Simon Rix said: “Football Welcomes is a great way for the footballing community to celebrate the contribution of refugees to football and appreciate what it means to flee conflict and persecution.
“People feel footballers are millionaires who live on islands, on boats or in mansions, but some of them have been through terrible times.
“This campaign is a really good way to bring it into focus for everybody.”