Some of the fiercest competition among German football clubs right now is happening off the field.
A number of teams are trying to outdo one another—in the best possible way—by extending kindness and help to refugees.
Germany, along with Iceland, has been the most welcoming of EU nations as the crisis in Syria has led to a flood of exiles seeking safety in Europe.
Eight-time national champion Borussia Dortmund, Germany’s third largest team, invited 220 refugees to one of their games to help take their mind off their misery. The team also launched an initiative to help refugees relocate to Germany.
Cologne has supported refugee projects for years while other teams, including Leverkusen, Hannover, and Hoffenheim, have started programs to collect clothing donations, provide tutoring, and programs to help children adapt to life in Germany.
Last year, teams and fans launched #RefugeesWelcome on social media to showcase German hospitality, waving welcoming banners in stadiums across the country.
“People come here thinking it’s all beautiful. You get treated with a lot of respect and there are values,” Syrian refugee Ghaith Al Kalla told the Wall Street Journal. “But living on, it’s just as hard as anywhere.”
European football stars carry a lot of clout and their pleas on behalf of refugees can move fans into action. Teams have been taking advantage of that with powerful videos.
The German national team released one featuring players holding up signs in support of “openness, tolerance, support, respect, and fair play” towards refugees.
Schalke star Gerald Asamoah is featured in another video calling on fans to help refugees.
“We have to stand up,” Asamoah says in the video below, “Otherwise we achieve nothing.”
Germany has a highly efficient system for getting migrants into shelters, caring for their necessities, and relocating them across the country. The country has taken in 40% of the EU’s 334,080 requests for asylum in the first five months of 2015.
(WATCH the Schalke team video below and READ more at Deutsche Welle) Photo: @RefugeesEFL, Twitter —Story tip, Craig Withers
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