Copa90, the world’s largest independent football media business, and definitive youth media brand for football, has teamed up with ITV to make an inspiring documentary about The Liberté Cup, an historic football tournament for refugees in the Grande-Synthe camp near Dunkirk. Scheduled to be screened on the ITV Hub from today (January 10), six months after France hosted the final of Euro 2016, the often heart-rending film follows the fortunes of those who took part in the one-off competition, as well as the British volunteers who travelled across the Channel to make it happen last September.
The idea was to look at how the beautiful game can function as a massive force for good, and offer an insight into how refugees who have fled war-torn countries including Syria, Iraq and Iran can, even temporarily, find an escape from their plight while on the pitch as well as form human bonds with people from the countries in which they seek shelter or asylum. The contest, which earned support on Twitter from the likes of Lionel Messi, took place on 10th September 2016 at Grande-Synthe’s Stade Jean Deconninck and featured eight teams from the camp as well as volunteers from United Glasgow Football Club and Hackney Wick FC.
Inspired by an idea from the award-winning advertising industry duo Ary & Joe, and conceived by Copa90, the tournament was put together in partnership with charities Fuze Beyond Borders and The Worldwide Tribe among others. Its aim, and the aim of the documentary, is to challenge the way refugees are sometimes portrayed in parts of the media by representing people living in the camp as individuals and focusing on their own stories, skills and passions. The Liberté Cup aims to spread a lasting message; that while the game won’t necessarily solve problems, it can be a unifying force and that football, with its estimated global participation running into hundreds of millions, “has no borders.” Copa90 has also created a Liberté Cup channel, #TheLiberteCup, across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook that blends football-themed content with wider information relating to refugees, provided by The Worldwide Tribe.
James Kirkham, the head of Copa90, said: “Copa90 has a mission to define football media and we’re looking to document important issues that we can shine a light on through football. With the Liberté Cup we’re adding our own sharp focus onto something right on our doorsteps. This is about humanity and the ability of football, as the ultimate connector, to do powerful things.” Nicolas Jayr, Marketing Manager at ITV, added: “The Liberté Cup is a fantastic initiative and this documentary is a great way for us to help amplify what is an important message to sports fans, that football and sports in general, can be a massive force for good.”