Quebec City soccer tournament uses sport to fight racism

About 50 people took to the pitch for an anti-racism soccer tournament in Quebec City on Saturday. Organizers said the goal was to use the common foundation of soccer to encourage conversations.

Soccer tournament was born out of a festival against racism held in Quebec City in February

The tournament featured co-ed teams playing 4 on 4 soccer games throughout the day Saturday. Organizers picked a soccer tournament because the game's universal appeal provides a foundation for people to come together and talk and share, and to look at some of the structural problems that cause racism. (Tournoi de soccer anti-raciste/Facebook)

About 50 people laced up their cleats and took to the pitch in Quebec City's Victoria Park on Saturday for a soccer tournament against racism.

"We're really happy. Obviously there are a lot of people that answered our call," said Charles-Olivier Carrier, one of the tournament's organizers. "They love sports and want to fight racism and it's just something that I believe speaks to them. There's a spirit uniting people fighting racism."

The tournament falls under the umbrella of a larger festival against racism in Quebec City. Organizers have held several events this year, including a festival in February and a cabaret in May.

A further 30 people showed up to watch the games, which were both men's games and mixed teams, with a range of abilities and ages, all accompanied by music from a DJ.

Raphaelle Morin, whose team Mambazo won the tournament, said one of the goals was to have fun. 

"My grandfather's African so for sure I feel concerned by racism in general, but I was invited here by a friend and we're all here to have fun all together," she said.

But Morin also talked about how racism affects her.

"It's an issue that most people try to maybe put aside or maybe not think about, but honestly it's part of our day-to-day lives. And I don't think people realize it," she said.

Morin says that sometimes she is disappointed because "people say they're so open minded and everything but I know it still happens."

For others, the tournament was about sending a message.

"I think it's a good thing to do especially now with [the] right wing rise, we have to stand up and show that there's other ways to live," said Michel Martin, one of the players. "That's why we have these types of events so we can counter the bad things."

Martin said he's lived in Quebec City for 30 years, but in the past ten years, he's seen right-wing groups gain influence in his city. 

"These right wing groups are now openly on the streets. They'll do demonstrations," he said.

"That's how you see things changing, you actually see them physically and I don't like that, no. I don't like the way it's going. Not everybody wants to live the way that they want us to live."

With files from Saroja Coelho