Following the tabloids in making a major pivot in their attitude to Syrian refugees, September 12th will see English football fans reflect German fans with a “refugees welcome” serenade. At present there are groups on Facebook and Twitter forming to encourage and welcome those supporter groups embracing the opportunity to participate.
Now I don’t expect many clubs to formally make the gesture (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/34142261) that Bayern Munich have done, with training camps to accommodate and teach refugees. Yet a formal form of recognition would be terrific, even if it is just in permitting large banners and flags with the Refugees Welcome international symbol (http://publicdomainvectors.org/photos/refugees_welcome.png).
On the day designated for such evangelism – a word better than protest I feel – I will be attending Portsmouth vs Barnet and in the way end. It would be great to see members of Barnet’s supporting groups back the refugees welcome movement, and show that English fans can show class.
Unfortunately my team Tottenham Hotspur will not have a home game, instead will be playing at Sunderland. I hope to read headlines about action taken by both teams, especially considering the history that Spurs have in battling oppression and welcoming ethnic minorities. This was the team that had the first black player in the football league Walter Tull, and also when England played a Nazi Germany in the 1930s, a fan climbed to the top of White Hart Lane to tear down the swastika flag.
A statement by football fans is one thing, and it seems that political activity is beginning after the horrific front pages that we have witnesses this week. Where the movement goes next is anyone’s guess, but sometimes it just needs someone or something to start it.