Football fans show anger at Bild over refugees

Football fans show anger at Bild over refugees
Fans at Stuttgart vs Schalke. Photo: DPA
Newspaper Bild scored an own goal with Germany's football fans over its "we're helping" refugee campaign, on a weekend when Dortmund maintained their perfect start to the season.

The newspaper, backed by the German Football League (DFL) and Bundesliga sponsors Hermes, launched a campaign to get all 36 clubs in Germany's top two tiers to wear a badge with 'We're helping – #refugeeswelcome' on the sleeves of their playing shirts for this weekend only.

At face-value, the campaign appears to be an honourable initiative to encourage fans to do their part to help aid new arrivals in the country.

But it has turned into something of a public relations own-goal for Germany's best-selling newspaper after seven second division clubs opted to boycott and banners criticising Bild appeared at stadiums across the country.

'#BILDnotwelcome' was spotted at several grounds as fans voiced their discontent, including Darmstadt for Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich, plus Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart for Sunday's key matches.

Germany has welcomed around 450,000 refugees this year with up to one million expected in 2015, according to Angela Merkel's government.

Initially all the clubs in Germany's top two tiers agreed to support the 'We're helping!' campaign, but St Pauli were the first to drop out, politely pointing out they have been helping refugees in Germany long before Bild decided to act.

St Pauli invited more than 1,000 immigrants in the city's holding centres to their recent friendly against Borussia Dortmund, amongst other initiatives to help refugees in Hamburg.

Bild, whose logo appears on the 'We're helping!' badge, had been criticised for negative coverage of refugees in Germany in the past and has now been accused of doing a U-turn in using the current crisis to improve their image.

Bild's chief editor Kai Diekmann poured oil on the fire by writing on Twitter last Wednesday: “No heart for refugees: what a shame! #refugeesnotwelcome St. Pauli is boycotting 'We're helping'”, which enraged Germany's football fans.

All of the 18 teams in Germany's first division took part in the one-off campaign, but many fan clubs put out statements urging their team to withdraw.

Six second division clubs followed St Pauli's example by pulling out, including Duisburg who wore a special shirt stating 'Refugees Welcome' for Sunday's 1-0 defeat at home to FSV Frankfurt.

“We feared having a shadow over us, due to the campaign, in the coming weeks, so we dispensed with the ('We're helping') badge on the arm,” explained Duisburg in a press release.

Kaiserslautern, who also boycotted the campaign, said they had done so because they feared “the real message was being pushed into the background”.

Dortmund keep winning

Borussia Dortmund regained top spot in the Bundesliga from Bayern Munich with a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen to preserve their 100 percent record after five straight wins.

Dortmund have now won 11 games in all competitions, but are top only on goal difference from defending champions Bayern Munich, who have also won all five games this season after beating Darmstadt 3-0 away on Saturday.

Early form suggests there will be a title-race in Germany this season after Bayern won the Bundesliga for each of the last three years at a canter.

Dortmund took the lead when right winger Jonas Hofmann profited from a mistake by Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno to slot into an empty net on 19 minutes.

Leverkusen should have been awarded a penalty when Mexico striker Javier Hernandez was pushed in the area by Dortmund left-back Marcel Schmelzer on 53 minutes but referee Deniz Aytekin waved on play.

The hosts doubled their lead when left-winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan's pass put Shinji Kagawa in behind the defence to slot past Leno on 58 minutes.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted Dortmund's third and his six of the season to match Bayern's Thomas Mueller's tally as the league's joint top scorer.

Augsburg picked up their first win of the season with a 2-0 victory at Hanover 96 thanks to goals by right-winger Alexander Esswein and Dutch defender Paul Verhaegh.

Earlier, Schalke's Leroy Sane underlined his status as one of Germany's rising junior stars with his club's second-half winner to seal their 1-0 victory at VfB Stuttgart to leave the Royal Blues fourth.

On Saturday, Bayern, who are bidding to become the first team to win the German league four times in succession, went top of the table for 24 hours with a 3-0 win at Darmstadt for their fifth straight league win.

Arturo Vidal, Kingsley Coman and Sebastian Rode claimed their first goals of the season with Munich's star forward Robert Lewandowski injured and Thomas Müller on the bench.

Gladbach's disastrous start to the season continued as they lost 1-0 at neighbours Cologne, thanks to Anthony Modeste's second-half winner, in the Rhineland derby to stay bottom of the table with five defeats from five.

The victory left Cologne fifth while Gladbach, who lost their opening Champions League group stage match 3-0 at Seville on Tuesday, remain rooted to the foot of the table and Lucien Favre resigned on Sunday night.

Wolfsburg, who face Bayern away on Tuesday, celebrated their 70th birthday with a 2-0 home win over Hertha Berlin as Dutch striker Bas Dost netted twice to lift his side up to third.

After coming off the bench on 71 minutes, Dost netted the opener five minutes later, then drilled home a penalty on 89 minutes after a foul on Germany international Julian Draxler.

But Dost was later slammed by his coach Dieter Hecking for behaving 'like someone had taken his toys away' in training having been subbed off in Wolfsburg's Champions League win at home to CSKA Moscow last Tuesday.

Ingolstadt made history as the first Bundesliga team to win all three of their home games in their debut season in Germany's top flight after Moritz Hartmann drilled home a 93rd-minute penalty which put the Bavarians fifth with a 1-0 win at Werder Bremen.

Bremen were reduced to ten men five minutes into injury time when midfielder Philipp Bargfrede was sent off for fouling Ingolstsadt's USA international Alfredo Morales.

Hamburg were held to a goalless draw at home to Eintracht Frankfurt while Mainz are seventh after Friday's 3-0 win at home to Hoffenheim when midfielder Yunus Malli claimed a hat-trick.