We play football against racism, sexism, and homophobia.
To integrate migrants and refugees. To support women and tackle discrimination. To promote fair play, break stereotypes and learn from each other.
We are a group of several hundred people of all ages. Migrants, Poles, students, refugees, entrepreneurs, homeless… We all live in Warsaw and we love football. The teams are mixed: there are no national teams, men and women play together. Participants prepare competitions, food and cultural activities. Scoring systems reward fair play and social activity. The players themselves decide on the rules for each season. Participation is free. We organize training and sparring sessions, charity tournaments and activities for refugee children. We show up at festivals, fairs and other events to promote our vision of sport. We also coach at schools, clubs and publish toolkits.
it is one of the most underrated instruments of social change. Sport plays an important cultural role and gives you a sense of belonging. A shared passion and universal principles are naturally linked to education. We use football to break stereotypes and find a common language between dispersed groups, especially those not participating in other forms of integration due to linguistic, psychological or financial barriers.
Why is it so important?
We often see racist incidents ranging from stadiums to school playgrounds. Some threw bananas at Dani Alves from the stands, others pretended to be monkeys when they saw Samuel Eto’o. Jews, Roma, LGBTQ and other groups are offended. The role of women is being diminished. FIFA organizes championships in countries where human rights are constantly violated. These are our problems because this is our sport and it also depends on us.
We are memebrs of Fare, Pan-European umbrella organization that tackles discrimination in football. In 2017 Etnoliga was shortlisted for the Beyond Sport Global Awards, and two years later for #BeInclusive EU Sport Awards. In 2020 UEFA honored us with the Grassroots Award for the best project in Europe.
What can be done?
Samuel Eto’o and Kevin Prince Boateng left the field. Dani Alves ate the banana thrown from the stands. Maribel Domínguez fought to join men’s club. Predrag Pašić left Germany at the peak of his career to train children in besieged Sarajevo. Carlos Caszely opposed the Chilean dictatorship despite the torture. Sócrates took up democratic standards in his club. Didier Drogba used his fame to lead peace in the war-torn Ivory Coast. In Poland, we created Etnoliga.
Our history in a nutshell
In 2005, we organized a tournament for refugees from Chechnya and Africa as well as Polish students. The following year, new groups joined us, including the Vietnamese. In the third and fourth tournaments, we already had 12 teams, including the representation of the Jewish community and Legia Warszawa fans. We started cooperation with womens’ amateur clubs and introduced parities in each team. Due to the great interest, in 2010 we launched a permanent league. Thus, a modest idea for a one-off tournament turned into a large intercultural sports initiative, one of the most recognizable in Eastern Europe.