In our multicultural society, football clubs are first and foremost places where people from different backgrounds can meet and mix. The Bundesliga itself is the prime example of this. The more than 1000 professional footballers of the first and second Bundesliga hail from over 90 countries. Nearly 40 percent of the roughly 5000 total players in the 36 professional clubs and their youth training centres come from an immigrant background. Football means diversity and togetherness. It means integration.
The Bundesliga Foundation has recently launched a countrywide campaign addressing precisely these issues, which will accompany the entire 2013-2014 football season. With the slogan Integration - a game for everyone, the initiative is campaigning for fair and sportsmanlike interaction regardless of colour, background, religion or language. Everyone speaks the language of football. It is practiced on the pitch and its power to bring people together is passed on from players to spectators, who in turn carry it with them into everyday life. The Bundesliga and the Bundesliga Foundation are working for tolerance and against discrimination, and are lobbying for the integration of people from immigrant backgrounds.
The Bundesliga Foundation supports numerous projects throughout Germany. These projects focus not only on strengthening general social skills but also improving language skills as part of football training as well as supporting the educational and career choices of people from immigrant backgrounds. This includes broader efforts to sensitize people to issues of integration, intercultural interaction and intercultural coexistence. These initiatives aim to meaningfully harness the potential of football and the Bundesliga. The project Stadium - A Place to Learn, for example, seeks to use the atmosphere and attraction of the social milieu of football to strengthen the social skills and political knowledge of disadvantaged young people. Another project, KIDsmiling, provides football offerings to youth in lower-income districts of Cologne.
© Auswärtiges Amt // Benedikt Coekoll