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Game on! EUROPEADA 2024 has started

Symphonic orchestra, ball juggling, cheers, chants and many smiley faces: this is how EUROPEADA 2024 was opened on Saturday, 29 June in Schleswig, Germany. The opening of the fifth edition of the European Football Championship of Minorities was held in the beautiful Danish school “A.P. Moller Skolen”, where project coordinator Ruwen Möller welcomed the invited guests – high-ranking politicians, the FUEN Presidium and, most importantly, the minority football teams from all over Europe. He started his welcome remarks with a minute of silence for Ilse Johanna Christiansen, a member of the Frisian ethnic group in Germany and indispensable part of the EUROPEADA and FUEN family, who passed away on 15 May 2024. Looking ahead to the football tournament, Möller emphasized his hopes for “a great football party that we can all enjoy”.

FUEN President Loránt Vincze expressed his gratitude to everybody who contributed to organizing the largest EUROPEADA ever. “EUROPEADA promotes diversity, empowerment, it is a platform for talent, it builds communities and gives increased visibility for minorities”, he said, adding that the tournament is also a reminder that even though the members of the minority communities do speak a different language than that of the majority, have different traditions, songs and attires, they are not that much different from the rest of society: “At the end of the day we eat, pray, love and like football just as everybody else. We are an integral part of the society in our homeland, and we are not defined only by what separates us from the majority, but also what unites us.” He thinks that EUROPEADA can also be an example for major sports events with its “message of acceptance, inclusion, and a very strong voice in which we say: Mute hate speech!”

Stephanie Lose, Danish Minister for Economic Affairs and patron of EUROPEADA 2024, emphasized in her speech that football is a global language that unites people across borders. However, EUROPEADA is much more than “just” football – the tournament is about tolerance, respect and international understanding, she said. Especially at a time when there is another war on the European continent, such events that unite people are invaluable. “I am proud to be part of this tournament”, Lose concluded her speech.

Robert Habeck, Vice Chancellor of Germany and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, sent a video greeting in which he recognized the German-Danish border area – his home region – as a “multi-cultural region where minorities and majorities live together and are friends”. He emphasized the minorities and their languages as an enrichment of the majority society. “They are what make up the diversity of a country,” said Habeck. EUROPEADA shows that this coexistence works: “You know that you are on the same playing field.” EUROPEADA is hosted by the Danish and the Frisian minorities in Germany, the Sinti and Roma in Schleswig-Holstein and the Germans in Denmark.

“Sport manages to bring people from all over the world together peacefully. Sport creates encounters, people exchange ideas and experience diversity. These moments and experiences are important for good co-operation in Europe”, said Minister President of the State Schleswig-Holstein, Daniel Günther. The head of government thanked the four national minorities as hosts and the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) for preparing and organizing the tournament: “I wish everyone together, the teams, coaches, spectators and those responsible, a great EUROPEADA. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a successful tournament!”

The opening speeches were followed by the presentation of the teams representing 24 minorities from 13 countries on the football field of the school.

Tournament play kicks off on Sunday at 11 am with games played in 14 venues in Germany and Denmark.