A new start through football

A difficult upbringing and time in prison set Jules, from the Netherlands, on a negative path in life. But thanks to the power of football, and his ability to mentor and inspire young people facing similar challenges, his future looks much brighter.

“Football connects our family across three generations of women”

Ramutė, 60, is a natural-born leader who has taken football to her heart, after being inspired by her grandchildren to take up the game. For the former police officer football has helped to fill one void in her own life following the death of her husband a few years ago.

Lewandowski & Co support Amputee Football

The Polish FA and stars of the national team gave a huge boost to amputee football in their country by taking part in a special penalty shootout challenge.

What is Equal Game?

  • European football is more diverse and multi-cultural than ever.
  • Our competitions and grassroots projects feature players and fans from all backgrounds.
  • And for UEFA it is important to communicate that football is for all.
  • Respect is a social responsibility initiative launched in 2008.
  • For the last 4 years, this initiative has featured the message of No To Racism.
  • UEFA is now evolving this message to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility across not only ethnicity but also gender, age, sexual orientation, all abilities, and social backgrounds.
  • The new campaign gives all football lovers in Europe a voice to share what football means to them.
  • The new respect campaign is called #EqualGame
  • Because everyone is entitled to enjoy football. No matter who you are, where you’re from or how you play.
  • On the pitch we’re all the same.

My Game

Jürgen Klopp (coach, Germany): You don’t even have to be smart to understand that we are all the same, the game shows you that immediately. You sit in the same dressing room, you go out on the pitch, you play together and if you don’t pass to your mate from the same city, it makes no sense. If you don’t pass to your mate from another country, it makes no sense. The game doesn’t work like that; it only works if you really play together, and that’s how football should be and how the world should be as well, but sometimes, the world especially, can still improve.

Ronaldinho (former player, Brazil): Thanks to the gift God has given me, I had the opportunity and the pleasure to be able to see other countries and get to know other cultures. I was fortunate enough to be able to learn other languages. Football has given me everything I have. That is why I thank God every day for having given me this gift, for having brought me into this world to play football. Thanks to football and the gifts given to me, I am who I am.

Zinédine Zidane (coach, France): Why is football wonderful? Because it’s universal and at the same time, it brings different people together, without considering who belongs to which religion or anything like that. We’re all the same. There are some people who do things better or may be better; that’s life. What stays with you is sharing things on a human level.

Kevin Gameiro (footballer, France): For me, respect came first. And to remain humble and have pleasure above all. Sometimes, when people ask me about it, I talk about pleasure because this is the best way to learn. Because if you already feel pressure at ten or 12 years old, it becomes harder. So pleasure first, and the rest will come easily.

Stephan El Shaarawy (footballer, Italy): Meeting players from different nations and ethnicities always teaches you something. I think you really see this not when you meet them but when you share a changing room with them. We’re obviously different and you understand many things about their cultures, habits and what they do. It teaches you good life lessons. In my changing room, I get on really well with all the players from different nations, especially the Brazilians!

Gianluigi Buffon (goalkeeper, Italy): It has been a beautiful journey, full of emotion, and I have overcome many challenges and difficulties. Obviously, Mother Nature helped a lot at the beginning, because I think I was very fortunate in terms of the physique and talent that I was born with. But I think I have also contributed a lot, my character, my desire to improve and my pride in writing a small bit of footballing history.

Jules Rasoelbaks (coordinator, Netherlands): I love football because we are a unit, we are a team. We play together, showing solidarity, and we have fun playing football. We speak to each other and we feel only love.

Gerko Brink (project leader, Netherlands): Football gives those people in prison or detention centres, who are motivated to make a new start, actually a genuine new start. [That’s] because a football club often provides a new social network and a ‘warm nest’ for people who don’t have that or are looking for it.

Radu Almășan (singer, Romania): I fell in love with football since early childhood, when I was only 3 or 4. Romania was under the Communist regime back then, and you couldn't really express yourself loudly. Later on, when I met people all around the world, I noticed that every time you want to know someone, two questions pop up: What music are you into? What football club do you support? And then I realised that, even though I tried to be a professional football player and didn't manage, I was able to forge a musical career. And I'm glad that both music and football bring people together all around the world, irrespective of country, race, religion, giving them one starting point for knowing each other.

Augustė Zubrickaitė (student, Lithuania): I like football because the whole team plays together, you have to talk with each other and it’s not just one player on their own. You’re not fighting all by yourself; other players help you. You are not alone on the pitch.

And many more…

Football stories

Follow Ljubomir's path to recovery through football after a life-changing accident.

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Everyone can play

“Shield of Honor”- Israeli-hope in sport

The Shield of Honor was designed to incentivise fans and club owners to better understand social issues, and to work together on eradicating racism and violence.

Nobody Offside

Every year, the Royal Belgian Football Association organises the Football kick-off, the biggest national football tournament for people with physical and/or mental disabilities. This one-day tournament brings together more than 65 teams from all walks of life. The teams wear the jerseys of the first national team division while famous referees and coaches come for the day to support to these avid football talents.

#EqualGame in Russia

The Russian national team welcomed ten children to their training session as part of a therapeutic sport programme.

FIGC assists migrants to integrate in Italy

United by football

Swiss International Xherdan Shaqiri recounts his remarkable journey from Kosovo to football’s elite.

Colourful LGBT support in Norway

Norwegian football unites alongside the LGBT community with a clear message - football is for everyone.

And many more…