Refugees and asylum seeker get behind England in the World Cup


A majority of refugees and asylum seekers are backing England in the World Cup, according to a new nationwide poll.

A massive seventy-five per cent of the refugees and asylum seekers who are football fans and were surveyed for the Ipsos MORI research said that they would be cheering England on.

Footballing hero David Beckham was also listed as one of the respondent’s most admired British people, beaten in popularity to the top spots only by The Queen and Princess Diana.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by Refugee Action on behalf of the Refugee Week partnership, also revealed that Manchester United was the British club most likely to be supported by those interviewed, attracting 38 per cent of the vote, followed by Arsenal and then Chelsea. The refugees and asylum seekers interviewed added that their favourite thing about living in Britain is the British people, followed closely by footie.

Peter Yoak, a refugee from Sudan who lives in Greater Manchester, said: “I will certainly be cheering on the England team in the World Cup and am a huge fan of English football. As a Manchester United fan I am also looking forward to seeing some of my favourite players like Rooney taking England to the final.”

The poll surveyed 327 refugees and asylum seekers across the country from a range of countries such as  Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. It was carried out for Refugee Week(June 14th-20th), a countrywide programme of events including concerts, film screenings, debates and exhibitions that celebrate the UK's history of providing sanctuary to people fleeing human rights abuses, and their contribution to the UK.

Jill Roberts, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said: “A huge percentage of the refugees interviewed are getting right behind England in this summer’s World Cup. Football cuts across differences in language and culture and brings people together in a mutual love of the game. This is a very encouraging survey which has also looked at favourite TV programmes, community involvement and cultural likes and dislikes and which goes on to show just how much refugees are engaging with British life.”

Almir Koldzic, National Coordinator of Refugee Week, said, "This survey reminds us that refugees are just ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.  Refugee Week offers an opportunity for

British born people and refugees to meet and get to know each other. Our Simple Acts campaign reflects this - we are asking people to do simple, everyday actions to get to know and promote understanding of refugees - whether by having a cup of tea with a refugee, watching a film about exile, or indeed playing football.  Because refugee or not, none of us can really bend it like Beckham."



For more information, photographs and interviews contact Julia Ravenscroft, Press Officer at Refugee Action, on 0161 831 5454/07771 748 159 or at


Notes to editors:

1. Organisations that assisted with the poll are:

Asylum Link, The Avenue Multi-cultural Centre Southampton, Babies of the World (BOW) Leicester, Bolton Community College, Central Lending Library Leicester, CLEAR, Liverpool Council, Manchester Refugee Support Network, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum, Pendleton Gateway, Praxis, Rainbow Haven, Red Cross Southampton, Refugee Action, Scottish Refugee Council, Southampton Winchester Visitors Group, Students and Refugees Together (START), Trinity Centre, Welsh Refugee Council, Women Asylum Seekers Together London, Women Asylum Seekers Together Manchester, Women for Refugee Women.

2.  Refugee Week 2010 takes place from 14-20 June. Refugee Week is a multi-agency project. The partner agencies currently include: Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross, the Children's Society, City of Sanctuary, the Home Office, Oxfam, Refugee Action, Refugee Council, Scottish Refugee Council, STAR (Student Action for Refugees), UNHCR and Welsh Refugee Council.

To find out more please go to:


3. The Simple Acts campaign is about inspiring individuals to use small, everyday actions to change perceptions of refugees.


It consists of 20 actions that can be done by anyone and that encourage us to learn and do more with refugees. With every person who joins the campaign and does a small thing with and for refugees, we get a little closer to removing barriers between communities and to creating the kind of world we all want to live in.


4. Refugee Action is an independent, national charity working to enable refugees to build new lives in the UK. We provide practical advice and assistance for newly arrived asylum seekers and support their settlement through community development work. As one of the country's leading agencies in the field, Refugee Action has 28 years' experience in pioneering innovative work in partnership with refugees and advised more than 40,000 asylum seekers and refugees last year. For more information, visit