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article imageBundesliga clubs reach out to Germany's refugees

By AFP     Sep 3, 2015 in World

German Bundesliga club Bayern Munich on Thursday announced it will donate one million euros (US$1.1m) to projects supporting some of the refugees pouring into Germany amidst the ongoing Europe-wide crisis.

The club is working with Munich authorities to set up 'training camps' for children to receive German lessons, meals and football kits.

The city of Munich has been particularly affected by the refugee crisis after local police reported that more than 100 migrants arrived in an hour on Wednesday in the Bavarian capital.

For their next home match against Augsburg on September 12, Bayern players will walk out hand-in-hand with both a German and a refugee child as a mark of support for the integration of refugees.

"We at FC Bayern consider it our socio-political responsibility to help displaced and needy children, women and men, by supporting and assisting them in Germany," Bayern's chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wrote on the club's website.

So far this year, German police have recorded over 125,000 illegal entries, more than double last year's total of about 57,000, with many coming from war-torn Syria as well as from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Serbia.

The influx has sparked a wave of attacks on asylum-seekers and violent protests against foreigners. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany will have "no tolerance" for "shameful and vile" violence against refugees.

Germany's World Cup-winning footballers have condemned xenophobic attacks and led calls to help the refugees.

Bayern Munich's Spanish head coach Pep Guardiola attends a training session with his players in...
Bayern Munich's Spanish head coach Pep Guardiola attends a training session with his players in Shanghai on July 19, 2015
Johannes Eisele, AFP/File

The German Football Association (DFB) has produced a video in which a group of star players appear holding up signs condemning violence and calling for "respect", "help", "integration" and "fairplay" towards any refugee arriving in Germany.

In Germany's football community, Bayern are not alone in offering help to those seeking refuge in Germany, with Europe's biggest economy this year expecting a record 800,000 asylum applications, more than any other EU country.

Bayern's Bundesliga rivals Schalke invited 100 refugees to their opening home game of the season and have founded the "Kumpel-Kiste" ("mate's box") initiative where clothes and toys can be sent to refugees.

Schalke have released a video showing club legend Gerald Asamoah, the first African-born footballer to play for Germany, talking about the importance of understanding what the refugees are going through.

In the video for the programme "Stand Up", Asamoah appears with the Schalke team and says the insults players hear from the terraces during a 90-minute match are nothing compared to what many refugees are experiencing on a daily basis in Germany as they wait to receive asylum.

"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 take a stand. That means we must stand up!”

Schalke's bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund, who invited 220 refugees to a Europa League game, responded by saying "separated by colours, united by this".

Other Bundesliga clubs have also got involved including Werder Bremen founded a "Stay on the Ball" project to help refugees in the region, while both Hannover and Hoffenheim have delivered kits and shoes to help.

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