At a soccer match in Larissa, Greece, on Friday, players on opposing teams showed true sportsmanship to stage a protest in solidarity with the migrants and refugees who died trying to reach their country.
After the referee blew the opening whistle, instead of starting the game, all 22 players on the pitch -- as well as substitute players and coaches on the sidelines -- from Greece's second-division football clubs AEL Larissa and Acharnaikos, sat down in silence. Footage of the moment can be seen in the video above from Greece's OTE Sports channel, which was distributed by the Guardian.
The crowds erupted into applause, and an announcer said the players would stage a two-minute sit-in protest "in an effort to drive the authorities to mobilize all those who seem to have been desensitized to the heinous crimes that are being perpetrated in the Aegean," according to Reuters. (After the brief demonstration the teams resumed the game, which concluded with AEL Larissa beating Acharnaikos, 2-0.)
The protest was "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 announcer said, referring to the Aegean Sea, a recess of the Mediterranean Sea located between Greece and Turkey.
Every day, hundreds of migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe by sea are cramped by the dozen into rubber dinghies or wooden boats that risk capsizing in the choppy water.
Some 3,770 people died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe in 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration. Over 200 people are estimated to have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean in 2016 so far, UNHCR said on Tuesday.
On Saturday, 37 people, including at least 10 children, died when their boat capsized onto rocks off the Turkish coast. And on Jan. 22, two boats capsized off the Greek islands of Kalolimnos and Farmakonisi, killing at least 42 people, including 17 children -- it was the one of the deadliest days on record for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean, IOM said.
Greek soccer is not the only sport shining a light on Europe's migrant and refugee influx. On Thursday, the International Olympics Committee announced that the traditional Olympic flame would pass through the Eleonas refugee camp in Athens to draw attention to the ongoing crisis, ahead of the games in Rio de Janeiro this May.
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