Oxford House in Bethnal Green played host to the launch of a new Fans For Diversity campaign photography exhibition. Fans For Diversity: L’Internationale showcases the work of freelance photographer Liam Aylott, who spent the duration of Euro 2016 following London-based supporters of all 24 countries taking part in the tournament. The free exhibition captures football supporters watching Euro 2016 matches from the capital city and are a celebration not only of their passion for football, but also of diversity in one of the world’s most multicultural cities.
Liam’s work was supported by the Fans For Diversity campaign, an initiative jointly led by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) launched in March 2014, which helps to encourage and facilitate fan-led events and activity that celebrate equality and diversity in football.
Exhibition curator and photographer Liam Aylott said, “I photographed during the Brazil World Cup and after that I came up with an idea of doing something similar closer to home in London. So I chose the European Championships 2016 and went about trying to get in contact with as many of the communities with participating countries as possible. The thinking is that in London we have communities representing every country, and I wanted to go out, mingle and capture the fans watching their teams, celebrate and despair. All together as one.”
Anwar Uddin, former Dagenham & Redbridge Captain and FSF Diversity and Campaigns Manager, said, “I think this is an amazing gallery of pictures. A picture paints a thousand words. Pictures tell it how it is. They are raw and speak to us without prejudice. Liam’s works highlight a city that is diverse, unified, strong – That’s a really powerful message when you consider all these pictures are from one city and probably just a few roads apart.”
The Daggers Club legend added, ‘This exhibition will be a great success. Look at the make up of the visitors at this launch and that will tell you most of what you need to know about the diversity in this city and what the FSF is trying to do through its outreach programmes. How many cities do you know where you can capture photos of fans from almost every participating country in a major football tournament. That is the beauty of our city.’
Aylott added, “You don’t get many instances when a stranger asks to take a picture of you, but this is football and things are different somewhat. I was a little nervous at first and wondered if I would get a frosty reception at places I visited, but there was not one single moment where I was made to feel unwelcome within any community of people. And if their team was winning I was able to take several pictures. It was great fun.”
Fans For Diversity: L’Internationale is open to all and the exhibition runs until Thursday, 20th October. The exhibition is open from 9am to 10pm at Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, London, E2 6HG and admission is free.
•For more information about the Football Supporters Federation, go to: www.fsf.org.uk