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“Football Belongs to Everyone” tour in reception units – Football serves as a bridge between different cultures

Publication date 20.6.2024 10.00
Press release

The Football Players Association of Finland (FPA), reception units, the Finnish Immigration Service and the Football Association of Finland have joined forces this year, too, to carry out the “Football Belongs to Everyone” tour in reception units throughout Finland.

On the tour, professional football players teach about football and encourage reception units and their customers to find football as a hobby. The goal is to enhance the physical and mental well-being of reception unit customers by increasing physical activity and the role of football in reception units throughout Finland.

The 2024 tour is arranged in reception units in different locations around Finland during spring and summer. FPA representatives participate in every event of the tour. The responsible coach is Jeferson Pires, a former Brazilian top player and current professional football coach. The reception unit employees are responsible for planning the programme of the day and the practical arrangements.

“At best, football can act as a bridge between different cultures and promote a sense of community. Sports and football also have positive effects on mental health,” says Pires, highlighting the importance of the tour.

People living in reception units often have limited opportunities to engage in hobbies. Football offers something meaningful to do and helps keep residents active and involved.

“Football is a very popular activity in reception units, so it’s great to see this collaboration continue this year too. The tour also advises reception unit personnel on how to activate customers to play football,” says Senior Adviser Kaisa Rontu.

“With the help of football, people living in reception units can learn more about local culture and customs. In addition, they can connect with local people, which facilitates their integration into a new society. Taking football to reception units is a significant and positive measure that benefits both individuals and communities at large,” Pires says.

The “Football Belongs to Everyone” tour has been organised since 2013.

“It’s been great to see how football connects people from different backgrounds and cultures. It’s also very rewarding to see how football can improve the quality of life of people living in reception units,” says Pires, who has been involved in the programme for a long time.

Pires emphasises that, during the tour, one hears many inspiring stories about people who have experienced great challenges and yet found joy and strength through football.

“Every new place and encounter teaches something new. On the tour, one continuously learns about different cultures and people and about how football can act as an instrument of positive change. Football itself is great fun and source of inspiration. The tour allows us to share this passion with others and see how it ignites a similar spark in both new players and spectators.”

The Finnish team defends its championship title in the Unity Euro Cup

As part of the “Football Belongs to Everyone” tour, the most enthusiastic and lucky players will be offered the opportunity to participate in the international Unity Euro Cup 2024 football tournament organised by UEFA and UNHCR. The tournament is now being held for the third time.

“The tournament promotes European unity, intercultural understanding and communality through football. The tournament offers an opportunity for people from different countries and backgrounds to meet and compete in a friendly spirit,” says Pires, who acts as the coach of the Finnish team.

Last year, the Finnish team celebrated the Unity Euro Cup championship.

“Our goal is to win the championship this year as well, but in sports, nothing is certain until all the games have been played,” Pires says.

Media enquiries

Press and Communications Services of the Finnish Immigration Service:, +358 295 433 037

The Football Players Association of Finland: Executive Director Panu Autio,, +358 40 702 2710


Logo of the Finnish Immigration Service. Logo of the Football Players Association of Finland. Logo of the Football Association of Finland.

Press release