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Bohemians insist new 'Refugees Welcome' jersey is a humanitarian statement, not a political one

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The new Bohemians away jersey

The new Bohemians away jersey

The new Bohemians away jersey

Bohemians have announced a partnership with Amnesty International by unveiling a new away jersey which highlights the plight of asylum seekers in Ireland.

The League of Ireland Premier Division outfit last year gained global attention by unveiling a Bob Marley tribute shirt, but the Phibsboro club had to withdraw the item due to copyright issues.

Bohs unveiled the new jersey ahead of the start to the League of Ireland season this weekend, partnering up with Amnesty International to highlight the plight of refugees and the stigma attached to the Direct Provision system in Ireland.

Speaking on RTE Radio's Morning Ireland show, Bohemians commercial and marketing director Daniel Lambert said: "This is the fourth year that we've been heavily engaged with MASI, the movement of asylum seekers, and we've brought people to the games.

"Initially it was a fan-lead initiative where people raise money and they pay for buses to go to different centres, mainly in Dublin and bring families to our games.

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Bohemians Marketing & Commercial Director Daniel Lambert

Bohemians Marketing & Commercial Director Daniel Lambert

SPORTSFILE

Bohemians Marketing & Commercial Director Daniel Lambert

"The people are foreign and very often, they might not speak the language but everybody speaks football. Through those engagements with fans, we've had a deeper engagement with MASI.

"They've had meetings in Dalymount and at Christmas time we actually had 200 children and their families at Dalymount.

"They were each given a Christmas present, our coaches coached them on the pitch, we had Christmas meals made.

"We actually had had gifts for over 500 children, and they left on busses back to different centres. It was a great day and it really showed us the human impact the football can have, it can be a real force for good."

Lambert insisted that he doesn't foresee an issue with UEFA or FIFA in being able to sell the jersey despite FIFA laws which contain the wording "the basic compulsory equipment must not contain any political, religious or personal statements."

Lambert said: "It's down to interpretation. We don't interpret the message that a set of people are welcome as political, we see it as a humanitarian and a social issue.

"Barcelona have had UNICEF on their shirt and we'd see this as a message that really is about welcoming people to Dalymount and in general.

"For us, to welcome people to our ground is the right thing to do. We work with lots of different groups, the club is progressive in many areas.

"The structure of the club itself being a members-owned club goes against a lot of a football has become and we feel at Bohs that we can be a force for good.

"We didn't consult down to every member but I think as the last few years with Bohemians have shown, we have our foundation which was established six years ago, which is in receipt of European funding for work we do in the local area.

"We work with people with visual impairments, we work with disadvantaged schools, we work with people in prison, with people with mental disabilities, with older people.

"So this is just another part of what the club does in the local area. First and foremost, we're a football club but as important to that is that we have a net positive impact in Dublin and Ireland."

Online Editors