Footballers Marouane Fellaini and Anja Mittag explain why they decided to #SupportRefugees and promote World Refugee Day (June 20). The European Union initiative is backed by FIFPro and UEFA. For more information click here.
Fellaini is currently on international duty for Belgium at Euro 2016. Before leaving for the tournament in France, the Manchester United midfielder sat down for a brief Q&A.
Q: What made you decide to take part in the EU #SupportRefugees campaign?
Fellaini: Of course, I am aware of the current situation for refugees. My own family has a migration background. Europe’s aid is vital. It provides individuals and families with access to services that are essential, such as shelter, food, healthcare and education. World Refugee Day falls during EURO 2016, so I am proud to be a part of a campaign that helps raise awareness across Europe to a wide audience.
Q: What was it like to work with Anja Mittag, a FIFPro World 11 player?
Fellaini: Male and female footballers do not usually cross paths! It was good to meet a fellow player who, as one of the top three female footballers in the world, has achieved so much in her career so far. She was also enthusiastic to get behind this campaign and help raise awareness about World Refugee Day.
Q: How did you enjoy the video and photo shoot? You must have done these before...?
Fellaini: It was interesting for me to see how we made this strong connection between the worlds of football and refugees. The two kids in the video, Nathan and Christallenia – both refugees – were really great.
Q: How does it feel for someone who grew up as a child in Brussels to be part of this campaign?
Fellaini: As someone who was born in Brussels – with family roots in Morocco – it makes perfect sense for me to support the campaign. And if I, as a well-known footballer, can use my profile to put an important issue in the spotlight, then it is a good match.
Q: How far can Belgium go in EURO 2016?
Fellaini: We’ll see. I have high hopes!
Mittag is one of world's best in the women's football scene. The German international, who was named to the inaugural FIFPro Women's World 11 earlier this year, plies her trade with French club Paris Saint-Germain. Read her full interview below.
Q: What made you decide to take part in the EU’s #SupportRefugees campaign?
Mittag: At first I was very surprised when I learned about this opportunity. It simply doesn’t happen that often in the life of a female player! Obviously it is quite a big step to be involved in such a public campaign. But in the end, what matters is the issue, the topic. For me personally, it was also great to see that it is not just Marouane and I who are supporting this campaign, but with UEFA and FIFPro, the world of European football is behind it.
Q: What was it like to work with Marouane Fellaini?
Mittag: Easy. Very straightforward. While we may both be known for our football skills, we have come together here as two ‘ordinary’ people who share the same feelings towards a really important issue. It’s true, of course, that the paths of female and male footballers don’t usually cross, but women’s football has witnessed some big developments in recent years, and I am sure that this will continue. Marouane is a great footballer – but he also seems like a genuinely nice guy.
Q: How did you enjoy the video and photo shoot? You must have done these before.
Mittag: We were playing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League until just before the shoot, so there was not too much time beforehand to think about the fine details of the filming and photo shoot. But the crew was great and helped me a lot with the voiceover for the text. That was an interesting experience in English (laughs). But yes, Marouane and I enjoyed the shoot – and we both stand behind the message of the campaign.
Q: You already support a charitable project in Tanzania. Can you tell us more about that?
Mittag: I´m sponsoring a boy in Tanzania to ensure that his health and also his education are good. My partner charity organisation is World Vision Germany. Through them, I already visited the child I am sponsoring in his home. It was a great experience to see what sense it makes to invest in this boy. The philosophy is to support his education so that he is able, as one of a new generation, to help his own country.
Q: How do you rate Germany’s chances in EURO2016?
Mittag: As much as I enjoyed my time with Marouane, I will keep my fingers crossed for ‘Die Mannschaft’.
About the campaign
60 million men, women and children are currently displaced worldwide, forced to leave their homes due to conflict, persecution and natural disasters. They need help, protection and long-lasting solutions. The European Union gives over 1 billion euros every year for humanitarian assistance to support those forced to flee their homes due to conflict, natural disaster or persecution.
The #SupportRefugees campaign is coordinated by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.
- Published: 17 June 2016