“Football helps me to forget about my sad journey”

Abubacarr risked his life when he left The Gambia for Italy. Now, it’s football helping him to integrate and settle in his new home country.

“Being gay in football shouldn’t be a problem”

Liam is England’s only openly gay professional footballer. This is his story of acceptance, support and unity.

FIGC assists migrants to integrate in Italy

Italy’s Rete! project is proving that football is more than just a game – it’s a powerful tool to promote social inclusion among young migrants.

What is Equal Game?

  • European football is more diverse and multi-cultural than ever.
  • Our competitions and grassroots projects feature players and fans from all backgrounds.
  • And for UEFA it is important to communicate that football is for all.
  • Respect is a social responsibility initiative launched in 2008.
  • For the last 4 years, this initiative has featured the message of No To Racism.
  • UEFA is now evolving this message to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility across not only ethnicity but also gender, age, sexual orientation, all abilities, and social backgrounds.
  • The new campaign gives all football lovers in Europe a voice to share what football means to them.
  • The new respect campaign is called #EqualGame
  • Because everyone is entitled to enjoy football. No matter who you are, where you’re from or how you play.
  • On the pitch we’re all the same.

My Game

Abubacarr Konta (migrant, The Gambia): Football unites people, that’s what I like in football. I have friends. We go out together thanks to football. When I had just arrived and did not have a team, I was not going out but once I joined a team, we became one. I’m grateful to the RETE! project because they help with lots of things. When I joined the project they took us to many places. We go for training three times every week and they provide us with a coach.

Ani Grigoryan (student, Armenia): Football plays a big role for girls, especially in Gyumri, Armenia because we are able to find ourselves, challenge the idea that football is only for men and we prove a lot through football.

Hugo Viana (former player, Portugal): I think friendship and discipline are the most important things in football, because you know a lot of people and you have to respect your colleagues every day. We spend a lot of time with them, with colleagues, coaches, directors, presidents, and with discipline and friendship you can achieve very good goals.

Patrick Mboma (coach, Cameroon): I was eight years old when I played this game The other side were leading 4-0, but then I got an assist and scored the three other goals. So, you can imagine that sensation in your first ever “official” game. From that moment it was impossible to think I would play another sport or stop playing football. In what must have been about 50 minutes of playing, the feeling was so great. You can imagine after you’ve seen the World Cup for the first time, you go and play this game. You feel like the star of the game, and you realise that it’s marvellous. I wasn’t Mario Kempes, the match wasn’t as important, but for a kid it was just amazing and that was the start of my journey.

Willi Orban (footballer, Germany): I like the connection. Football brings together people from many nations and cultures. Football is one language. And a lot of work is done as a result of that integration.

Kaspars Gorkšs (footballer, Latvia): It’s a wonderful game. It doesn’t matter whether you play, or sit in the stands, or watch your little son play football, it’s the game that gives me emotions that nothing else can give me.

Lise Munk (footballer, Denmark): For me, one of the most important things about football is its role as a social unifier. Sport is something that brings people together, so people should also be able to play it, whether it’s football or another sport.

Sir Alex Ferguson (manager – retired, Scotland): And in one year - in fact, several years - we probably had over 22 different nationalities. And I found it fantastic. It was a great challenge for all of us, but what we found was that they were not different from us. Not at all, because number one: they wanted to play football. When you’re on that football field, it’s the same language

Dimitri Payet (footballer, France): I was with my parents when I saw on the television that I’d been picked for France for the first time, and my parents were nearly in tears. These are moments that happen very rarely in your life, but football creates these sorts of moments, you can forget everything else. For me, footballers aren’t the stereotypes that we have, they’re human beings and they share these special moments with the people closest to them.

Arjen Robben (footballer, Netherlands): Yes, I think that sport in general connects [cultures]. Football is of course the number one sport, so with regards to that it's something you can use to also bring together all the different cultures.

And many more…

Football stories

Come on an emotional journey with Abubacarr, a football-loving migrant from The Gambia.

View story

Everyone can play

United by football

Swiss International Xherdan Shaqiri recounts his remarkable journey from Kosovo to football’s elite.

Colourful LGBT support in Norway

Norwegian football unites alongside the LGBT community with a clear message - football is for everyone.

Special Olympics Young Athletes Programme

Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF) and FK Žalgiris worked side-by-side under the Special Olympics Young Athletes programme and shared the joy of sports with children between 2 and 7 years old, who live with mental disabilities.

2017 European Amputee Football Championship

The first ever European Amputee Football Championship took place in Istanbul, Turkey in September. Organised by the European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF), the tournament was a huge success, with 12 teams taking part and tens of thousands of fans showing up to support these incredible athletes.

Refugee Tournament at UEFA HQ

Over 140 players living in refugee centres in the Geneva-Lausanne region participated in a football tournament organised by Hospice Général and supported by UEFA. The aim of this project was to provide assistance to people who need it most and to use football to integrate refugees from the local area.

UEFA Grassroots Awards

Three very inspired coaches show how they help others with organizing football events, trainings and education. Based in Italy, Armenia and Northern Ireland, they show how important football is in people’s lives on a day to day basis.

And many more…