The Irish welcome is famed throughout the world and Dublin’s Bohemian FC have displayed a powerful show of solidarity with asylum seekers arriving in Ireland.
Bohemians and kit suppliers O’Neills have partnered with Amnesty International on their new away kit, which welcomes refugees to their Dalymount home with open arms.
Bohs will wear the “Refugees Welcome” image of a family fleeing war, conflict or persecution across this season’s away shirts, whilst the slogan “Love Football, Hate Racism” occupies the back of the collar.
“We made the decision to allow our shirt to be used as a platform, alongside Amnesty International, to highlight a very real and pressing issue in Ireland today, that of Direct Provision,” said Bohemians director, Daniel Lambert.
“This builds on a deep and lasting relationship we have built with MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland) and through multiple engagements with people living in Direct Provision.”
Direct Provision is a system of asylum seeker accommodation used in the Republic of Ireland, which human rights organisations have criticised as being illegal, inhuman and degrading.
On the other hand, supporters of the system argue that it ensures asylum seekers are housed and cared for in accordance with international law.
Amnesty International Ireland’s executive director, Colm O’Gorman, said: “Bohemian FC and their supporters have an incredible track record on social justice issues. We’ve long respected the practical solidarity they’ve shown people seeking asylum and refugees, so this is a fantastic opportunity to bring our supporters together to call for an end to Direct Provision.”
“Direct Provision is an ongoing human rights scandal. The system is fundamentally flawed, trapping people for years in limbo and isolating them from communities in inhumane, institutionalised conditions.”
This season’s away kit is a follow-up to the well-intentioned but ill-fated Bob Marley tribute shirt that drew international fame and attention in 2019.
O’Neills’ design celebrated Marley’s only live appearance in Ireland, which took place at Bohemians’ Dalymount home.
Unfortunately, nobody had cleared the design with the singer’s estate and so the jersey needed to be refined.
Whilst Bohemians’ new away shirt’s thin diagonal stripes may not win too many design awards, the sentiment behind it has drawn praise from beyond football circles.
Some will criticise Bohemians for using their jersey as a “political” platform but we certainly don’t see a problem with social causes being highlighted on football shirts.
After all, it’s their shirt, and within competition rules and laws of decency, they can do whatever they want with it.
Humans are social animals and need to belong to something.
Bohs’ message, using the universal language of football has offered the game, and their club as a place where people can feel accepted and included rather than isolated and marginalised on the fringes of society.
An escape from life’s problems, a place to call home.
Isn’t that what we love about football?