Integration of Refugees through Sport: A review of empirical literature and evaluation studies

November 20, 2022

The Sport Inclusion Network (SPIN) is well aware of sport’s advantages for the inclusion and integration of refugees. Expertise from the Network’s members and partners has been collected and presented in the form of their “Guide to Good Practice in Europe” from 2018 and in several reports.

A new publication prepared by Jondis Schwartzkopff form the SPIN research partner Camino examines existing empirical literature and studies on the integration of refugees through sport. The review gathers further empirical evidence of the benefits of sport by analyzing evaluations of sports programmes in terms of their impact and outcome.

It focuses on sport as an instrument for social inclusion and integration policy, reviewing a total of 17 quantitative and qualitative programme evaluations and empirical studies from different contexts. The review also compares different forms of programmes, namely sport events for integration, sport programmes targeted exclusively at refugees, integration of refugees into sport clubs and teams, and qualification programmes with sport for refugees.

Exploring favourable factors for social inclusion through sport

The review supports the evidence collected by SPIN: Sport as a tool for inclusion and integration can be successful. However, the literature emphasizes that providers need to consider several factors, especially when working with women and girls. The form of programme should be chosen according to the goals. Finally, the review also gives recommendations on how to avoid common problems when evaluating these types of programmes.

The review is part of the project “Sport Inclusion of Refugees across Europe” (SPIN refugees) within the SPIN network. Project partners include the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC – fairplay) from Austria, Liikkukaa – Sports for all from Finland, UISP from Italy, the football players’ union SJPF from Portugal, the Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organisation from Hungary, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), the Huis voor Beweging from the Netherlands, the research institute Camino from Germany and ISCA based in Denmark.

The print version of review can be order by contacting

Download: Integration of Refugees through Sport: A review of empirical literature and evaluation studies (.pdf)

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