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'Stand up if you're human' - German football welcomes refugees

'Stand up if you're human' - German football welcomes refugees

As European leaders struggle to find a solution to a growing humanitarian crisis within their countries' borders, German football clubs and fan groups have sent a strong message.

We’re attacking people that have nothing, that are after help […] I ask that all of you sit down and ask yourself, ‘Why are we doing this?’ If everyone shows some civil courage, if we talk about the issue and say, 'This isn’t right' then we can achieve so much. We have to stand up […] We have to make a statement.

These are the words of FC Schalke player Gerald Asamoah, speaking in a video published by the club as a response to the political discussion surrounding the large number of refugees arriving in Germany and other countries in Europe. “Stand up if you’re human” is the call made by Asamoah and the other players in the video.

In addition to publishing the video, Schalke have launched the idea of the “Kumpel-Kiste” (friend’s box) to send clothes and toys to refugees, and they invited 100 refugees to their first home game of the season. Schalke are not the only team to have taken action:

  • “Refugees Welcome” and other slogans have been spotted on banners in football stadiums across the country
  • Bayern Munich have announced they will donate over one million euros to refugee projects, in addition to offering football training camps, German classes and food
  • Borussia Dortmund invited 220 refugees to their Europa League qualifier second leg against Odds BK, which took place as part of the city's "Angekommen in Dortmund" (Arriving in Dortmund) campaign
  • Germany’s national team published a video speaking out against racism and violence

These are just a few of the examples from Germany, where fan groups and clubs at different levels of the game have declared their support for a humanitarian response to the crisis. As news of violence and xenophobia is transmitted around the world, it is easy to forget that large numbers of Europeans have also demonstrated empathy, support and activism.

The image of football is often marred by stories of racism, homophobia and hooliganism. What’s happening in Germany highlights the potential for the sport and its popularity to also be used to share positive messages, act as a fundraising mechanism and inspire action.

There are now signs that clubs in other countries are starting to follow suit. Scottish champions, Celtic, have announced that they will be donate their share of the proceeds from a charity football match to projects supporting refugees, while supporters’ groups at English teams Aston Villa and Swindon Town have said they will follow their German counterparts in holding “Refugees welcome” banners at home matches.


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Paul Hunt


Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 23:00