Fabrice Muamba: A message of support

20 March 2012

Author: 
Rachel Robinson, Policy Officer

The plight of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba has united not only his sport but much of the nation. Messages of support have come flooding in for the midfielder, who collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest during his team’s match with Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. Reports suggest his condition is gradually improving and he regained consciousness yesterday, enough to talk and recognise family members.

Clearly there’s still a long way to go, and Liberty offers its wholehearted support to Fabrice and his family. His story is inspiring in more ways than one. Muamba was born in Zaire – now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1994, his father fled the country and sought asylum here in the UK. He was granted indefinite leave to remain in 1999 and joined by his son and family. Fabrice settled in London and achieved 10 GCSEs and A-Levels in English, French and Maths – despite having been unable even to speak English when he arrived aged 11.

But it was at football that the young man truly excelled. He joined Arsenal’s youth academy in 2005 and made his first team debut a year later, before joining Birmingham City in 2006. He was voted Young Player of the Season by fans before joining his current club Bolton Wanderers two years later. Again he proved a popular member of the squad, and was voted Player of the Season by The Bolton News in May 2010. He has also represented England at Under-21 level.

His success is a terrific illustration of how refugees can make the UK their home, build themselves a new life and contribute so much to our society. The importance of refugee protection in Britain is fundamental, and we must never lose our tradition of being a nation that offers sanctuary to those fleeing war, torture and persecution. Britain is a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention; a vital document that’s given millions of people just like the Muambas safety in the UK and allowed families like them to flourish. Fabrice’s popularity and the overwhelming response to his ordeal is a testament to the more positive side of Britain’s history in this area.

Fabrice Muamba’s story is surely an inspiration to anyone forced to flee their home and seek refuge here. It should also give pause for thought to those who see refugees as liabilities rather than national assets. He remains in all our thoughts and Liberty admires him for setting such a fine example, urges him to keep fighting and wishes him a full and speedy recovery.