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No Beer For Racists: Revisiting BVB’s Guidelines For Dealing With Bigotry

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid CF - UEFA Champions League Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images

Last season Borussia Dortmund started a campaign to educate people on the racist myths that plague our sport. Part of the campaign was an influx of responses one can offer up to common things fans hear at every football game.

Why are we sharing these with you now? It’s a reminder that as BVB fans, it’s up to us to challenge the things people say that go against the fabric of this club. Football is for everyone, plain and simple.

Below is a translated transcription from the site with statements you may hear in bold with BVB’s explanation for why it’s wrong listed underneath each one.

“As long as the person standing next to me in the stadium, supports our team, I really don’t care what he thinks”

The smallest common denominator of all Dortmund fans is that we all support our club. Our core beliefs are set in stone in our club's bylaws:

“The club encourages sport as a function of bringing together nationalities, cultures, religions and social separation. It offers kids, teenagers and adults, regardless of sex, skin colour, origin, belief, social ‘setting’ or sexual identity a sporting home” (§2 Abs. 3 Vereinssatzung BV. Borussia 09 Dortmund e.V.)

Those that do not share these values, do not have a place in our club. Therefore, supporters that carry their racial hatred into the stadium, have nothing to do with Borussia Dortmund.

“With such actions, you make racism an important topic”

Racism is something we face in our daily lives. In Germany, racism is not only people that are bald and wear leather jackets and boots, but also our neighbours that complain about the apparent criminal Romanian family across the street. There are also supporters that show their hatred towards Nuri Sahin after misplacing a pass by labelling him a “Turkish-pig”.

With such comments, Nuri is being reduced to simply his ethnicity. Such comments bring forward differences, which are the basis for all racist comments. And therefore racism is a problem in our society, as immigrants get labelled as criminals and our players mistakes on the pitch get blamed on their ethnicity.

“We have enough problems of our own”

We are at fault too for the situation that forced people to flee their respective countries. Politics in the west is not at fault for everything, but in a global society in which politics and economics are dependent on several states, we are at fault for the situation too. In addition: the notion that immigration costs the German state more money is false.

In 2014 we saw that people without a German passport paid €3,300 more in taxes than they receive in state benefits. Upholding human rights costs are something we can afford (basically saying we support it). Furthermore, refugees can support our economy - should we let them. They want to work, learn and many are already qualified to work. Supporting refugees is a responsibility on us that can not be quantified with a cost-benefit analysis.

“The boat is full. We cannot afford this many refugees”

Such comments show the fear of losing the German identity. At the crux is the idea that Germany is taking a very high proportion of refugees. And it is correct: Germany receives the most asylum request in Europe. Be wary though, as this does not accurately reflect how many are granted. In addition, Germany is also one of the largest and most economically powerful nations in Europe. If you look at the number of asylum requests in proportion with population, Germany is only in 10th position in Europe. (More request are seen in Belgium, Switzerland and Malta. Sweden sees 5 times as many.)

Most importantly though, due to the demographic development of Germany, we need refugees. From today's perspective, in 2040 roughly half of the German population would be in retirement. The entire social system as we know it now would crumble without immigrants. We would also be losing 10 to 20 million educated people in working ages. Germans alone would never be able to close that gap. For example the year 2013: 885,000 non Germans entered Germany (109,000 seeking asylum, roughly 12%). In addition, 367,000 Germans left the country. Economist and politicians are in agreement that roughly half a million refugees per year is still not enough to bridge that gap.

“Foreigners are more inclined to criminal activities than Germans”

A study conducted in 2012 by the IW Cologne proved that violent criminal acts by foreigners increased by 1.5%, vs the 12.3% of native Germans. Refugees are a benefit for our society. Many immigrants are educated and able to work in Germany.

Important for Germany's innovation, roughly 10% of all refugees have a high school degree with MINT. (Maths, IT, Science and technical) With Romanians and Bulgarians that percentage lies at about 8%, vs. The 6% of the general population. Sadly, many of these qualifications are not recognised in Germany or require many bureaucratic steps to validate their education.

A human's right to live in freedom and comfort, free from torture and poverty, is not dependent on their economic support. We have to defend these rights.

“They don’t want to be integrated into our society”

All beginnings are tough. Those that have spent significant time in a foreign country with different values and cultures know this. Those that come to our country have it equally as challenging. Most notably the language barrier makes it incredibly hard for refugees. It’s not a surprise that they then look for people of similar ethnicity and background at first.

This quickly creates the view of a parallel world. Often times they get labeled as “Turks,” “Pakistani” or “Indians,” regardless of how long they've lived in Germany already. Instead of labelling they we should offer a helping hand. Access to supplies and support should also be made available; for example an education and other social freedoms. This is not only something politicians have to do, but each and everyone one of us. Only by doing so, can we create a supporting and accepting environment for all, fostering living together in harmony. Integrating them does not mean they have to adapt their beliefs and regions entirely to us, but rather a working together to find acceptance.

“Homosexuality is not natural”

The human species is a beautiful example of diversity. Every species on this planet tries to find a little luck and love. How can we therefore label some love as wrong? If we all wished upon others what we want for ourselves, the world would be a much better place. Homosexuals are, as are all humans, in search of love and support. Any kind of love towards another human, is positive.

“Homosexuality is natural. In the animal world we have discovered at least 1500 different homosexual tendencies, in 500 different animals. This can be found in a wide range of animals, from spinners to elephants and lions to cacti.

Even Aristotle wrote about this 2300 years ago.”

“Football is for real men, they can't be gay”

Who says a real man can't also be gay? And what is the exact definition of a real man? Homosexuality is a form of human sexuality. Even during the antique times, people of the same sex loved each other. This can be found in several painting and in literary sources. If a real man is therefore homo or heterosexual, does not play a role.

Adi Preissler said: “What counts is what you see on the pitch. What counts is the effort. And countless examples from past players show that great footballers can also be gay. Otherwise how else would Thomas Hitzlerberger become vice European champion and winner of the domestic title. How then did he get the nickname “Hitz the Hammer” due to his powerful shots? Sexual preference therefore does not prove or show a player's tendency towards being a real man.