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22nd of July 2018

Sport



Migrants play football on Red Square

By Reuters:

207

Wednesday, July 4th 2018 at 23:05 GMT +3 | World Cup 2018 [PHOTO: COURTESY]

Migrants from Africa and Asia staged their own version of the World Cup in Moscow on Tuesday, playing soccer matches in Red Square in an event held to highlight challenges faced by refugees in Russia.

The games were organised by anti-discrimination network FARE and the Civic Assistance Committee, which helps migrants and refugees.

Players from Syria, Afghanistan and African countries including Ivory Coast, Congo and Nigeria took part in a series of matches in a FIFA-designated Football Park by the Kremlin walls.

Russia has made efforts during the World Cup to show it is open and does not tolerate discrimination or xenophobia. Despite fears the tournament could be tarnished by racism, no major incident has been reported.

Alexei Smertin, the Russian Football Union’s anti-discrimination inspector, attended and played in the first game.

Immigrants in Russia, particularly from Central Asia, can be targeted for spot document checks by police or suffer racial discrimination. It is difficult for asylum-seekers to obtain refugee status, rights workers say.

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“This event is to draw attention to the problems of discrimination, xenophobia,” said Svetlana Gannushkina, an advocate for migrant rights.

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