Thursday, May 19

Danish plans for asylum-seeker football league



Plans are under way in Denmark for a football league for asylum seekers, aimed at helping them to integrate into society.

Residents at four centres for asylum seekers in eastern Denmark will compete against each other in the pilot project, which is due to kick-off in August, the TV2 website reports.

It is the idea of Per Bjerregaard, former chairman of the top-flight Danish club Brondby IF. “The project can contribute in a variety of ways,” he tells the broadcaster.

“Asylum seekers can get exercise and variety in their daily lives, and get easier access to other Danes and associations in Denmark. In this way we can facilitate integration through football.”

The participants are being kitted out with football boots and strips, and Mr Bjerregaard says a number of big names have agreed to help with coaching the players. Among them are former Danish national team manager Morten Olsen and ex-Celtic midfielder Morten Wieghorst.

The Red Cross, European football’s governing body UEFA, and the Danish football association are also backing the project.

Kasper Koch from the Red Cross says football takes people’s minds off their other worries and can help them to form personal networks, a key tool in finding employment.

Mr Koch hopes the league could go nationwide – or perhaps even further, telling TV2: “Who knows – maybe it could have the same structure as the Champions League.”