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African refugees play football in Russia’s Red Square

REFUGEES: Immigrants from Africa were among those who played football in Red Square (Image: Fare Network)

AFRICAN REFUGEES have played football in Moscow’s Red Square to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by refugees in Russia.

The football tournament, which took place on Tuesday against the backdrop of the World Cup in Russia, was organised by anti-discrimination network FARE and the Civic Assistance Committee.

Svetlana Gannushkina, head of the Civic Assistance Committee, said: “This event is to draw attention to the problems of discrimination, xenophobia.

“For us it is also to show the authorities that there are these great guys and they should be given [formal refugee] status.”

As well as players from Africa, people from Syria and Afghanistan also took part.

The matches were held in a FIFA-designated football park right by the Kremlin walls.

Immigrants who travel to Russia are often singled out for spot document checks by the authorities or victims of racism.

Among those involved in the tournament were players who had applied for refugee status but had not been granted it.

Traoere Kadjale, 27, from Ivory Coast, played in the matches.

He said: “It’s really fun for us, it brings us joy. So we are asking Russia to give us an opportunity. Football players like us, who are here, we can also express ourselves.”

Before the World Cup in Russia began, fears were raised over the prospect of racist incidents.

England’s Danny Rose said he told his family not to come and watch him play due to the possibility of experiencing racism.

Last month he told the Evening Standard: “I’ve told my family I don’t want them going out there because of racism and anything else that may ­happen. I don’t want to be worrying when I’m trying to prepare for games for my family’s safety. If anything ­happens to me, it wouldn’t affect me like it would if my family had been abused.”

So far there have been no reports of any major racist attacks.

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