UEFA will present three #EqualGame Awards this week to celebrate exceptional work in promoting inclusion and diversity in football.
The winners – Khalida Popal, Juan Mata and the German Football Association (DFB) – all demonstrated excellent leadership qualities in creating a more open, diverse and accessible game, setting a powerful example to follow in the 2020 season / 21 and beyond.
Each of the winners will be honored in the UEFA Nations League draw on Thursday 16 December, which will be televised live on UEFA.com and broadcast worldwide from 6:00 p.m. CET.
UEFA President Aleksander Äeferin:
“Each of these three #EqualGame award winners is a great example of how football can be used as a catalyst for positive change. They can and should be very proud of their accomplishments and I want to personally thank them for their exemplary leadership. which will hopefully inspire many more. “
Michele Uva, UEFA Football Social Responsibility Director:
“Khalida, Juan and the DFB all showed tremendous heart and commitment. They found ways to use their position in football to improve the lives of others and mobilize people around their important causes. . So, they are fantastic role models for all of us – for players, supporters, national associations – to care for others, especially the weaker people in society. “
Khalida Popal: a shining light for women in football everywhere
Khalida Popal receives the #EqualGame Award for her tireless work in combating gender stereotypes and empowering girls, women and minority communities through sport.
Popal, 34, had to leave her native Afghanistan, where she was the founder and captain of the women’s national team, ten years ago. While experiencing life in refugee centers in Norway and Denmark, she used the power of football to help her and other women overcome stress, trauma and depression and to give hope and joy to their lives. Now based in Denmark, Popal continues to use football to create opportunities for social inclusion – she is the founder of the Girl Power organization and an ambassador for the Street Child World Cup.
Since the unrest in Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul this year, Popal has worked tirelessly to evacuate the squad’s players and ensure they find a place to resettle.
Khalida Popal, winner of the #EqualGame Award:
“It’s recognition not only for me and my work, but it will inspire other women and girls to use their platform and the power of their platform and their voices to make this game beautiful and more inclusive.”
Juan Mata: a unifying example of the Manchester United midfielder
Already a winner of the UEFA EURO 2012, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, Juan Mata is also one of the most socially active players, setting the perfect example off the pitch with Common Goal, l charity that he co-founded in 2017.
Common Goal is bringing positive change to socially disadvantaged communities, using the power and popularity of football to tackle gender inequalities, promote inclusion and provide more opportunities for disadvantaged children.
By inspiring players, coaches and others, including UEFA President Aleksander Äeferin, to devote 1% of their salaries to the project, Mata proves that football can make a direct positive change in communities around the world.
Juan Mata, winner of the #EqualGame award:
âI was proud of the work our organizations do there and proud of the stories of people overcoming difficult challenges. That’s what we want to do with Common Goal: give people the choice to decide their future. “
DFB: commitment to football for all
The DFB is the largest sports association in the world and sees it as its responsibility to promote football in Germany as a sport for all, with a strong and lasting focus on inclusion. The DFB defends diversity and its positive impact on football and society. Through its Football for All program, the DFB is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment where everyone can enjoy the game.
The DFB was one of the first football associations to actively support refugees. What began as an opportunity for refugees to play football has turned into a broad inclusion program. DFB is now also running a leadership initiative to provide qualifications and integrate people from different backgrounds into their administration and volunteering programs.
With a comprehensive action plan and resources in place for most football diversity concepts, in January 2021 the DFB established a National Contact Point for LGBTQI + issues in football. The main objectives of this independent entity are to increase the visibility of LGBTQI + communities in sport, to develop and share best practices within football and to work closely with all stakeholders for more inclusive practices in the field. soccer.
Dr Rainer Koch, First Vice-President of the DFB:
“The DFB believes that football is a powerful force for fostering social cohesion. Today’s award goes to all members of the German federation who work for a level playing field, which is more important today than ever.”
About the #EqualGame Awards
Since 2018, and under the banner of the UEFA Respect campaign, the #EqualGame Awards celebrate individuals or football organizations who have acted as role models in promoting diversity, inclusion and accessibility in European football.