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St Ambroeus: Milan football club helping migrants and refugees integrate into Italian society

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By Luca Palamara
Refugees at the St. Ambroeus football club in Milan.
Refugees at the St. Ambroeus football club in Milan.   -   Copyright  Euronews
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St Ambroeus is the first football team in Milan to be composed of refugees and migrants coming from outside the EU and to be affiliated with the Italian Football Federation.

Fighting racism, the small football club is not situated in a glamorous location with rich, world-famous footballers, rather the very reason for its existence and the main idea behind its foundation is integration.

The club was founded five years ago with the mission to give migrants and refugees a chance to make friends and to integrate into society.

"We are a multi-ethnic, working-class football team and we try to be both a social and football point of reference in the city of Milan. We use football as a way of integration, social exchange, and knowledge, and on top of that, a very valid way to fight racism," said the director of St. Ambroeus, Daniele Raduazzo.

However, the club has been fighting against Italian laws regulating the refugees' stay in the country ever since it was created.

"While on one hand, the Italian Federation was very enthusiastic about our affiliation, on the other hand, we have to deal with laws that go beyond the football federation; these laws have shaped the approach of the Italian State towards migration over the last 30 years and they are repressive and liberticidal laws," Davide Salvadori, president of St. Ambroeus, told Euronews.

Football gives a chance to these refugees to forget about their status. When they are on the pitch, they become defenders and forwards for their teams, and play for the colours of their club.

"Here we have black and white people. There are people from Mali, Senegal, Guinea or Cameroon, etc. There are a lot of countries, a Moroccan too. And we all play together," player Issa Doumbia said.

St Ambroeus allows migrants and refugees to play in the same squad as Italians who live in the neighbourhood, and they can also attend Italian language courses to boost their integration process.