Munich - Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger was not the only high-profile political figure taking to the Bundesliga stage back on Matchday 3.

German chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel stepped out in support of the Geh Deinen Weg campaign for integration during a national weekend of celebrating tolerance and diversity.

Go your way

The chancellor has always allied herself with football, but took the opportunity to ram home the importance of respect, tolerance and diversity. "I can think of no stronger partner than sport, and of course, especially football [...] Gay footballers should not have any fear of coming out. That is my political message," she declared.

Stamping out racism, xenophobia and homophobia has long been talked about in football, but with the 18 Bundesliga clubs getting right behind Merkel’s powerful message, German football once again took a leading role, providing an exemplary model for Europe's many national leagues.

Celebrating difference

The movement for integration in football saw each team forsaking their usual shirt sponsors in favour of the slogan "Geh deinen Weg" (Go your way), with the principal aim of encouraging today's youth to celebrate difference. Of course, such a message is nothing new in German football.

The Bundesliga Foundation and all 36 Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs have long been working to banish racism and discrimination in football: a sport which traditionally transcends borders and has a central role to play in a multicultural society.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge