FC Bayern has officially launched a new anti-racism campaign, “Rot gegen Rassismus”/“Reds against Racism,” this Thursday. The campaign had been planned for some time.
Seventeen members of the club — from the soccer team, the basketball team, the women’s soccer team, and the front office — gathered and shot a video declaring a stand against racism in all places, not just on the football field, but in the locker rooms, in the stands, in the schools, in the supermarkets, airports, train stations, and everywhere else.
Club captain Manuel Neuer was joined by his teammates Thomas Muller, Thiago, Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, and Alphonso Davies in sharing their experiences. FC Bayern Frauen stars Lineth Beerensteyn and Lina Magull, FC Bayern Basketball players Danilo Barthel and Alex King, and present and past board members Oliver Kahn, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Herbert Hainer, Hasan Salihamidzic, and Uli Hoeness also firmly denounced the existence of racism and embraced the values that not just the club, but the society as a whole must withhold.
“In a functioning society, you cannot always speak of an open world and great values only if it brings you advantages. It is about sensible cooperation, a common exchange, mutual respect and tolerance,” said Muller. “We never tire of raising awareness of the issue of racism.”
Kimmich chimed in, saying, “My image of Germany is that diversity and tolerance are practiced here. This image should not and cannot be papered over because it is part of our values, our normality. Because Germany is multicultural.”
Non-German players Beerensteyn and Davies (Dutch and Canadian, respectively) gave insight on what they learned from playing in a different country, across different cultures. Beerensteyn said, “We are all equal, and there is no room for discrimination – neither on the football pitch nor in society. Diversity broadens horizons.” Davies echoed her words by saying, “Football means we come together, with our different colors, with different religions, from different nations, to enjoy this wonderful game together.”
The basketball team’s Alex King took a more direct way of voicing his thoughts: “Guys, I’m telling you: racism went out a long time ago!” Sule also did not pull any punches, rightfully calling racism the work of individual idiots. “It’s absurd that racism still exists in the 21st century,” he added.
Of course, the leading figures of the club, including Neuer, Hainer, and Kahn, made themselves very clear in their personal statements. “I’m against any form of racism. I stand for tolerance and coexistence,” said Neuer. Hainer brought up Muhammad Ali and his words against racism: “I am America, I’m the part you don’t recognize,” before nailing home his point with the simple words “there’s no excuse for racism.”
Finally, Kahn said racism “is a feeling of abasement, humiliation and marginalization, and we don’t want to see that on the football field, just as we don’t in everyday life,” and declared the new campaign’s cause: “Reds against racism! In the stadium, on the streets, everywhere!”
The campaign involves the launching of special “Rot gegen Rassismus”! T-shirts, which will be worn by everyone who is a part of the movement. Fans can get behind the cause as well, as the shirts are available in FC Bayern’s online store. All proceedings will be donated to FC Bayern Hilfe e.V., a subset association of the club that supports causes in financial need, be it youth and elderly care, education, or sport.
Moreover, according to the club’s website, the campaign will support the DFL’s campaign matchday on the weekend of the 21st of March, when Bayern hosts Eintracht Frankfurt, naturally supporting the cause of diversity in the sport. The club has already put out an exclusive piece in the club’s magazine 51, covering the campaign to raise more awareness among members.
Here’s to a cause that should be spread as far and as wide as possible, and that should be supported by the fans of FC Bayern as well. As Rummenigge declared, “FC Bayern stands against racism, anti-Semitism, exclusion of any kind and violence. Our club lives this world view – and we demand it. Anyone who closes their mind to it is clearly at the wrong club.”
Several of the players shared their own insights into the campaign via social media:
Racism makes me angry and sad. Democracy means living together in tolerance. It's about not excluding anyone. It's about letting everyone participate in our world. #RotgegenRassismus pic.twitter.com/fVFopxxOXC— Thiago Alcantara (@Thiago6) March 5, 2020
Rassismus wird in unserem Land nun schon seit einiger Zeit präsenter. Diese Tendenz macht mir Sorgen. Zeigt Zivilcourage, weist Rassisten in die Schranken – im Stadion wie im Alltag! #RotgegenRassismus @FCBayern pic.twitter.com/3boPV5kSLL— Leon Goretzka (@leongoretzka_) March 5, 2020
Racism has become more present in our country for some time now. This trend worries me. Show civil courage, put racists in their place — in the stadium and in everyday life!