Greek footballers pitch protest at continuing refugee crisis

Players from AEL Larissa and Acharnaikos held an on the pitch protest at the beginning of their game on Friday 29 January 2016 at the continuing refugee crisis.

As the crowd waited for the match to start all 22 outfield players — as well as coaches, officials and substitutes — sat down for two minutes after the ref blew for the start of the match, in respect of the hundreds of refugees who have died trying to escape conflict or persecution in countries like Syria and Iraq.

Twenty-four people attempting to cross to Europe from Turkey drowned when their boat sank off a Greek island on Thursday.

When the players rose back to their feet, their gesture was celebrated with respectful applause.

An announcement over the club’s PA system stated: “The administration of AEL, the coaches and the players will observe two minutes of silence just after the start of the match in memory of the hundreds of children who continue to lose their lives every day in the Aegean due to the brutal indifference of the EU and Turkey.

“The players of AEL will protest by sitting down for two minutes in an effort to drive the authorities to mobilise all those who seem to have been desensitised to the heinous crimes that are being perpetrated in the Aegean.”

Greece became the main gateway for refugees who began arriving in Europe last year, many undertaking hazardous sea crossings in small craft. Five children were among at least 33 migrants who drowned in the Aegean Sea after their boat capsized on Saturday as they attempted the crossing from Turkey to Greece.

AEL Larissa and Acharnaikos protest 29jan16

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