Ex-footballers will cycle to clubs ‘to show human trafficking a red card’

The former footballers are ready to don their lycra for a cycling challenge around football clubs to show a ‘red card’ to human trafficking. Dave Hodgson, Steve Vickers and Neil Maddison are due to visit five clubs in the North East today – Newcastle United, Sunderland, Hartlepool United, Middlesbrough and Darlington – on UN World Humanitarian Day .

They will be joined by a group of 20 cyclists, including Gordon Miller, who organized the event to raise money for his community benefit society Ride For Freedom’s ‘freewheeling programme’, which empowers survivors of the modern slavery of riding bicycles to support their physical and mental health. Mr Miller, from London, said Mr Hodgson contacted him to say ‘how impressed he was with Ride For Freedom’s vision and asked if he could support a ride in the North East’ .

“We discussed it and he offered to approach the five professional football clubs in the region and to invite several former footballers to join the ride.”

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Mr Miller said that by cycling in clubs that have a “huge public profile and fan base, we are raising awareness of the issue to a large number of people as well as the clubs themselves”. He added: “Our cycle between professional football clubs in the North East ‘shows a red card’ to this crime.”



Neil Maddison, former Middlesbrough player

He added that the ride reinforces his company’s Show A Red Card campaign, which focuses on human trafficking in football. A total of 15,000 victims are trafficked each year in the name of football in Europe alone, according to the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Mr Hodgson has a personal connection to Darlington as he led the football club in three spells over a decade from 1995 to 2006 and said he was “delighted” to support the run. “Modern slavery is all too present in our communities, and it’s an issue impacting football, and I support Gordon and Ride For Freedom in their mission to harness cycling to raise awareness. , as well as helping survivors ride bikes through their freewheel program,” he said.

Mr Maddison, a former Middlesbrough player, said ‘football clubs can play an important role in stopping the traffic’ and the bike ride is a ‘great way to get the message across’.

Mr Vickers, also a former Middlesbrough player, added: “I’m really delighted to join this bike ride in support of Ride For Freedom’s Show A Red Card campaign to shine a light on what’s going on.”

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