Mannschaft step forward to welcome refugees

AFP/The Local
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Mannschaft step forward to welcome refugees
Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger at a press conference earlier this week. Photo: DPA

Germany's World Cup-winning footballers have condemned xenophobic attacks on the thousands of foreigners pouring into their country and led calls to help the refugees amidst the ongoing crisis.


Led by captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, a group of players appear in a video holding up signs condemning violence and calling for "respect", "help", "integration" and "fairplay" towards any refugee arriving in Germany.

After reading out their individual messages, the players all reveal their determination to stand "against violence and xenophobia".

'Duty to do something'

The message of support from Germany's football stars, who are preparing for Friday's Euro 2016 qualifier at home against Poland, is bound to carry weight in the football-mad country.

"Of course, we are concerned about the issue. It's important for us to set an example," said Germany's team manager Oliver Bierhoff with the video posted on - the German Football Association's (DFB) website.

Midfielder Toni Kroos said the squad felt they had "a duty to do something against violence and xenophobia".

"My attitude is that Germany, as one of the richest countries on earth, must help," added the Real Madrid star.

Bayern Munich star Thomas Müller said a solution to the problem must be found, but added "first of all, our duty is to help people".

A DFB delegation will visit a Christian Aid refugee housing project in the Frankfurt suburb of Egelsbach next Wednesday and meet players from "Refugee United" - a team made up of immigrants who play at the local football club.

Flood of volunteers

Europe's biggest economy this year expects a record 800,000 asylum applications, more than any other EU country.

More than 100 migrants an hour arrived in Germany early Wednesday amid a record influx travelling on packed trains to the southern city of Munich, said police.

They were greeted by a flood of donations of food, water, and other supplies that swamped a police collection point at the Bavarian capital's main station on Tuesday.

Volunteers sort through a huge pile of food at Munich Hauptbahnhof on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

An average of 109 illegal entries per hour were registered between midnight and 6:00 am nationwide, said federal police. The national total for Tuesday was 3,709 -- more than twice the daily average of recent weeks - with most arriving in Munich by rail from Hungary via Austria.

Of the day's entries without valid visas, 3,170 were in the police district that covers Munich and areas close to the Austrian border, said spokesman Gero von Vegesack. 

So far this year, German police have recorded over 125,000 illegal entries, more than double last year's total of about 57,000, with many coming from war-torn Syria, followed by Eritrea, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Serbia.

The influx has sparked a wave of attacks on asylum-seekers and violent protests against foreigners, while Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany would have "no tolerance" for "shameful and vile" violence against refugees.

But Manfred Weber, a leading light of Merkel's Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) allies and centre-right EPP leader in the European Parliament, tweeted on Wednesday that Europe must "fight misuse of our asylum system", in a sign that tensions over the refugee crisis among conservatives in Germany are not resolved.

SEE ALSO: Munich police swamped by refugee donations


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