Coleman supports the Campaign to Support Special Olympics Athletes

Seamus Coleman spoke to Carlo Ancelotti as Everton return to training

Special Olympics Europe Eurasia has launched #FacesofFootball, a unique hub for digital activism and campaign to encourage footballers with intellectual disabilities to stay active and engaged in the face of evolving Covid-19 restrictions.

The unprecedented participation by athletes across Europe resulted in nearly 1,000 participants from over 40 countries participating in training – including the GB Special Olympics!

Today marks the first day of Special Olympics European Football Week 2020 # EFW2020.

Now in its 20th year, European Football Week is usually celebrated in May. Every year, 40,000 participants from 50 countries take part in hundreds of events. However, as with everything else this year, European Football Week 2020 is far from usual.

This year, it launched online in the form of #FacesofFootball, a pioneering new digital hub for footballers with intellectual disabilities and non-disabilities across Europe, their coaches and supporters.

The campaign caught the attention of Everton and Ireland’s captain Seamus Coleman, who threw his weight behind it.

He said:

“Football faces give footballers with intellectual disabilities and non-disabilities across Europe the opportunity to meet, train and compete in the game they love without leaving their homes or their garden.

“Everyone is welcome and everyone is included. Even though we’re not together physically on the field or on the field, for me, that’s the perfect example of the overall strength of sport.”

The sense of isolation that many suffer as countries go into lockdown earlier this year is nothing new for people with intellectual disabilities.

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Marginalization and exclusion are common experiences that many have on a daily basis. However, Covid-19 and the accompanying restrictions have exacerbated these sentiments and brought with them new troubling challenges for Special Olympics athletes – many of whom live in already vulnerable situations.

The new #FacesofFootball campaign faces these challenges head-on and uses digital technology to enable athletes to continue training, competing and most importantly, connecting with fellow players, coaches and supporters regardless of restrictions imposed.

  • Anyone can register, create a unique soccer card and support with Click here