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What would Sundays be without football? UNHCR Ambassador visits stadium in Ukraine turned shelter

Entered in Non-Profit


In May 2023, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and Mexican actor Alfonso Herrera traveled to Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia, calling for increased support for those displaced by the ongoing war. At the Lviv Arena in Ukraine – a once-famed stadium turned shelter for internally displaced people – the actor witnessed the profound effects of the conflict.

A video capturing his visit to the stadium intersected with Alfonso Herrera’s support for football club FC Barcelona, a key UNHCR partner via the Barça Foundation. The objective of the video was to officially launch the 2023-2024 football season across social media channels, kicking off the second year of the UNHCR-FC Barcelona partnership.

By leveraging the power of sports and Alfonso Herrera’s reach, UNHCR aimed to spotlight the major displacement crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine. At the same time, we intended to underscore the impactful partnership with FC Barcelona which includes sports projects reaching displaced children and adolescents on four different continents, with a special focus on providing access to sports for protection for displaced women and girls.


Filming in Ukraine posed significant challenges due to security concerns amid an active conflict, as well as the ongoing humanitarian efforts for displaced people sheltering in the Lviv Arena. Yet, it provided an opportunity to link UNHCR’s partnership with FC Barcelona, with Alfonso Herrera's support for refugees whilst visiting a stadium that once graced historic football matches, and even welcomed the FC Barcelona team in the past.

Accessing the shelter while respecting the displaced people staying there, proved challenging and limited our filming time at the location. Our plan was focused on a scripted piece that highlighted the universal connection between football and Sundays – What would Sundays be without Football? – a cultural phenomenon that’s relatable for football fans worldwide.

The resulting piece opted for a cinematic and adventurous approach, connecting sports with the realities of conflict and displacement. We took risks with this different focus which proved successful, garnering positive responses from sports and humanitarian sectors, as well as from a wide audience through extensive social media engagement.

This project tested unconventional content to shed light on the displacement crisis due to the war in Ukraine while respecting the dignity of those affected. It highlights the potential impact of exploring storytelling boundaries to evoke empathy and drive positive action. The mix of personal connections, the historical significance of the filming location, and stark realities made it a compelling tool for awareness raising.


This initiative successfully launched the 2023-2024 football season and the second year of the partnership between UNHCR and FC Barcelona.

The results of the content across UNHCR’s social media channels, both on our global channel as well as on our Spanish language channel, showed significant impact. The focus for this piece was on Instagram and on @refugees and @acnur the initiative drove over 2.7 million views, nearly 19k engagements, and a total reach of 2.8 million.

It was UNHCR’s most engaged piece of content in the two years of this high-profile partnership, resonating strongly with its audience, reaching football fans, people with an interest in the displacement situation in Ukraine and UNHCR’s humanitarian response, as well as fans of Mexican actor Alfonso Herrera.


Video for What would Sundays be without football? UNHCR Ambassador visits stadium in Ukraine turned shelter

Entrant Company / Organization Name

UNHCR, the Refugee Agency


Entry Credits