#EqualGame stars line up alongside football legends before Europa League final

A special football match in Lyon, featuring European grassroots players and several stars, celebrated UEFA's #EqualGame campaign and its promotion of inclusion, diversity and accessibility in the game.

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UEFA is celebrating the first full season of its #EqualGame campaign, which aims to positively promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility in European football.

To mark the occasion, UEFA organised a special football match ahead of the UEFA Europa League final between Marseille and Atlético de Madrid in Lyon.

Grassroots stars - Abubacarr Konta, Ljubomir Moravac, Ramutė Kartavičienė, Jane Velkovski, Zehra Badem, Liam Davis, Eddie Thomas and István Szabó
Grassroots stars - Abubacarr Konta, Ljubomir Moravac, Ramutė Kartavičienė, Jane Velkovski, Zehra Badem, Liam Davis, Eddie Thomas and István Szabó©Lukas Schulze

The match at the UEFA Europa League Village at the Place Bellecour featured grassroots stars from across Europe who have featured so far in the campaign. 

They were joined on the pitch by Portuguese legend Luís Figo, former Olympique Lyonnais and Barcelona ace Eric Abidal, and current Olympique Lyonnais women’s stars Ada Hegerberg and Shanice van de Sanden.

The aim was to emphasise #EqualGame’s key message that football is open to all people, irrespective of age, gender, ability, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or social background.

Ramutė Kartavičienė, Jane Velkovski, Luís Figo and Ada Hegerberg
Ramutė Kartavičienė, Jane Velkovski, Luís Figo and Ada Hegerberg©Lukas Schulze

Since #EqualGame’s launch last August, these grassroots players have shared their fascinating stories with UEFA, and have brought the campaign to life through the written and spoken word. 

“It was an absolute pleasure to take part in this unique occasion,” said former Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan star Figo, “Sharing the joy of football, and promoting diversity and inclusion – values which are a crucial element of this great sport.”

Ada Hegerberg and Jane Velkovski
Ada Hegerberg and Jane Velkovski©Lukas Schulze

Ada Hegerberg said: “Our match has showcased equality on the pitch, and highlighted just how football should be accessible to all, no matter who they are, what they and where they come from.” 

Ramutė Kartavičienė, who has set up a team of grandmothers in Lithuania, scored three times during the match. “But this match was not about scoring goals,” she said. “It was about playing together with all kinds of people from different backgrounds and with a variety of abilities.”

Luís Figo is challenged by Shanice van de Sanden in the match
Luís Figo is challenged by Shanice van de Sanden in the match©Lukas Schulze

“We didn’t know each other before we came here, but I made new friends. We have one thing in common - we love the game.”  

The players then became spectators, as they visited the magnificent Stade de Lyon together, to enjoy the Europa League final.

 

 

 

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