Serie B has launched a crowdfunder to help finance a football pitch for refugees on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Lampedusa is roughly equidistant from Sicily, Malta and Tunisia and, as such, lies directly on the perilous sea route taken by the thousands of refugees who attempt to reach Europe each month. The island represents a temporary home for many of those who attempt to cross over to the mainland, and has borne witness to huge losses of life in recent years, not least during the Lampedusa migrant shipwreck of 2013 which left over 360 people dead.
Though the crossing from North Africa can be deadly, many of those who survive are housed on Lampedusa. That means that the island has a large population of refugees, who often end up living in poor conditions with few amenities.
Now, Serie B's governing body wants to provide a full-sized football pitch for the island, renovating a semi-derelict site in the process. They are aiming to raise €100,000 through their crowdfunder, while a total budget of €2,000,000 will be met with further help from sponsors, public and private institutions, not-for-profit organisations and Serie A clubs.
In association with the league's official charity, B Solidale Onus, they plan to build a public pitch with a grandstand, changing rooms and floodlights, which will be open to use by local youth teams and students as well as refugees. They have already received over €50,000 in donations, despite the fact that the crowdfunder remains open until January 2017.
A statement on the official crowdfunding page says that "the project will provide a range of opportunities including sport, training courses, non-sporting events and, most importantly, integration. The aim is that the pitch will quickly become a social hub for the community of Lampedusa."
It goes on: "The island has seen a large influx of refugees in the past few years due to its proximity to North Africa, and a project like this could be a strong unifying force for everyone living and arriving there.
"The community of Lampedusa doesn't care about skin colour, choice of religion or country of origin. This community only cares about giving help to those who have risked their lives for a better future for their families."