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Can sport play a role in dealing with the European migration crisis?

With the 2015 European migrant crisis escalating on an almost daily basis, the European Parliament has commissioned Loughborough University’s Professor Ian Henry to report on 'the role of sport in fostering open and inclusive societies’.

Producing a research briefing and policy review with long term perspective, Henry, who is a Professor of Leisure Management and Policy within Loughborough University’s world renowned School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, will review the evidence for the use of sport in social integration strategies at this pivotal point for migration within Europe.

The report focuses in particular on the role of sport in promoting positive engagement between ethno-religious and other groups in 'host communities’.

The briefing paper has also been charged with addressing the relationship between sporting engagement and the reproduction of European values, something particularly relevant to current European concerns with population migration and on longer term settlement of refugees and asylum seekers. 

In addition to the written report, Professor Henry will make a presentation to a workshop for MEPs, and members of the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament. This will take place on Monday 14 September as part of EU activities staged for the European Week of Sport.

Henry, who is also the Director of the Centre for Olympic Studies & Research at Loughborough, commented:

"This review builds on earlier work funded by the European Commission, undertaken by my colleague Dr Mahfoud Amara and I, on the role of sport and education in the integration of refugees and asylum seekers.

“We are able to report here a significant growth in the evidence base supporting positive outcomes from appropriately structured intergroup contact, not just in sport but across a wide range of activities, which will have significant implications for policy."