Cologne – FC Schalke 04 recently launched a powerful campaign addressing the current issue of refugees arriving in Germany, and in doing so have shown that football clubs can also shoulder social responsibility.

As Schalke announced on their official website, over the last few weeks players, club employees, board members and former stars expressed the desire to start a campaign to help out. The idea behind their #standup initiative is explained in a video.

'Is what I'm thinking and what I'm doing right?'

In a moving speech, former Germany international and Royal Blues striker Gerald Asamoah outlines the plight of the refugees. He says that as a player you may get booed after a poor performance, but that you can go home and be part of an environment where you are accepted. That stands in stark contrast to what refugees go through: “These people are sitting in an asylum, and they are surrounded by 1,000 people who are trying to get at them."

Asamoah, who won a runners-up medal at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, has seen recent photos of attacks against refugees and their accommodation. “I’m not looking to convert anyone; everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” he said. “But if you say to yourself, ‘I am human’, then you have to listen to your heart and ask yourself, ‘Is what I’m thinking and what I’m doing right?’”

His appeal goes further: “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!”

The Bundesliga is helping

Schalke share Asamoah’s stance, a point highlighted by the fact he made this announcement with the club’s first team squad. “Stand up if you’re Schalke” is a chant that brings everyone involved with the Royal Blues to their feet when heard in the terraces. “Stand up if you’re human” is Asamoah’s cry in the name of the club in this political debate. 

It is no mere rhetoric, as Schalke have been actively helping people in need in Germany throughout the summer as part of their ‘Kumpelkiste’ campaign, while the club’s foundation ‘Schalke hilft!’ invited refugees to the Veltins Arena to watch the pre-season friendly against FC Twente. Further actions are planned in the coming weeks.

And Schalke are not alone in helping. The Bundesliga is too.