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Copa90 and Ary & Joe unite for historic refugee football tournament

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Copa90, the global football fans network, has united with its charity and media partners in a force of solidarity to support refugees with “The Liberté Cup,” a football tournament for refugees in the Grande-Synthe camp. Inspired by an idea from the award-winning creative duo Ary & Joe, and conceived by Copa90, the tournament is a partnership with charities Fuze Beyond Borders, The Worldwide Tribe, Utopia 56 and supported by Football Supporters Europe, FARE network and the Grande-Synthe Mairie. The Liberté Cup is not political and there is no money involved. Its aim is simple; to change the way refugees are viewed in the media and to shift perceptions away from the ‘swarms’ being negatively discussed by politicians. The idea is to posit them as real people with their own skills and passions.

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Joe and Ary are two English creators who got together over a year ago with one idea in mind: a football tournament to spread the message of solidarity. They said: “The Liberté Cup is a football tournament, a signal of solidarity for refugees in Grande-Synthe, France. This is not a political campaign, it’s not a charity and we're not asking to open borders. The aim is simple. To change the way refugees are viewed in the media. They don’t need your pity, they want your support so forget the politics and let's play. Football supporters from all over the Europe will come together in message of solidarity, and try altering the way refugees are perceived by the media. In order to express this message more effectively, the refugees will be split up amongst all of the different teams coming to the tournament to show that on the pitch, we are all equal!”

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Held near the refugee camp at Grande-Synthe’s, Stade Jean Deconinck over the weekend on September 10, the Liberté Cup involved ten teams comprised of refugees and various refugee-supporting teams from across Europe. Supporters contributed football shirts from their home teams to create a wash of football colour. Training was pretty intensive too, with refugees taking three sessions a week in preparation for the tournament. A documentary, produced in partnership with ITV, is set to follow later in the year. The tournament itself was eventually won by the FURD (Football United Against Racism) team, who scored the winning goal during a tense penalty shootout.

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