International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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For this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is commemorated annually on the matchdays around 27 January to remember the victims of the Holocaust, the Bundesliga is remembering people who were murdered during the Nazi dictatorship because of their physical or mental disability. Discrimination against disabled people still exists to this day. “Sport is about coming together, being together,” says FC Bayern president Herbert Hainer. “No one can or should feel excluded, neither in our FC Bayern family nor our society.” On Saturday, the day of the match against RB Leipzig, the Allianz Arena will again be lit in purple in support of the rights and equal treatment of people with disabilities.

In this interview, Kim Krämer, Bayern’s disabled supporters liaison officer, and Jens Fülle, sports consultant for the ‘Offene Behindertenarbeit’ (‘Open Work with the Disabled’) in the region of Munich, explain what’s important to them on this topic – and look ahead to a joint inclusion action day.

Interview with Kim Krämer and Jens Fülle

As part of the ‘!Nie wieder’ (‘Never again!’) initiative, the focus for the 2022 Remembrance Day is on the Nazis’ euthanasia programme - what do you associate with this topic?
Kim Krämer: “The horrors of the Nazi period should be a reminder to people with and without disabilities, today and forever more, that something like that must never happen again. In our fan club Rollwagerl eV, we also have a lot of members from migrant backgrounds, and we’re called on every day to fight against discrimination and exclusion, wherever we encounter it. In that respect, we can never really forget what happened in Germany during that time.”

Jens Fülle: “Looking back is always important to better understand social contexts and life in general. The other day I saw a great poster in a football stadium: ‘Never again is now!’ Looking at history is important, especially in Germany, because it has great significance for our coexistence in the here and now. This way of thinking that people with disabilities are not worthy of living because they are not economically usable came to a head during the Nazi era with the euthanasia programme, but did not disappear immediately after the war. It is only since the 1970s that there have been nationwide schools dedicated to the issue of inclusion. A lot has happened, but the struggle against discrimination against people with disabilities has never ended. As a person with a disability, you still need a thick skin and a lot of perseverance to be able to assert your rights.”

No one can or should feel excluded, neither in our FC Bayern family nor our society.

Herbert Hainer

Mr Krämer, on the theme of thick skin: what is the most important thing to point out to people about inclusion today?
Kim Krämer: “Fundamentally, inclusion begins in the mind. You have to talk about the subject of inclusion in order to raise awareness of it. I can tell you, though, that there is a lot happening on this front in German football and particularly at FC Bayern, more than in some other areas of life. Unfortunately we still hit walls too often in everyday life.”

Jens Fülle: “We need even more of a welcoming culture in all areas of life to achieve a change in thinking and openness to the topic. The first step is accessibility, also in people's minds, then something will emerge. Sports clubs and football are wonderful bridge-builders here because we can create uncomplicated encounters and thus shared experiences. If we always go our separate ways, our lives will also be separate. It is also about breaking down fears of contact. This can be achieved through shared experiences, and sport is a wonderful module here.”

President Herbert Hainer says that no one should feel excluded in sport. 
Kim Krämer: “FC Bayern has always talked to people with disabilities - and not only about them. We are very happy that, for example, we were involved in the planning of the Allianz Arena back in 2002. That was a great inclusion moment for all of us. FC Bayern is trendsetting here throughout Europe. Without accessibility, there is no inclusion. If opportunities for people with disabilities had not been created in the Allianz Arena, every step would be an insurmountable hurdle - and nothing could take place together. Simply because it can't. It's about education and implementation. Inclusion is a powerful word - and a permanent process: you can't snap your fingers and everything is settled. You always have to be on the ball with the issue, and that is absolutely the case at FC Bayern. I've also calculated that the club is paying quite a lot for it: at the Allianz Arena, it has deliberately dispensed with seats in some rows in Category 1 in order to ensure visibility for wheelchair users. They are foregoing around €1 million in revenue that they would have received with regular seats.”

There’s going to be an action day on the theme of inclusion, as long as coronavirus allows - what’s going to happen and what are you hoping for from it?
Jens Fülle: “We always mix the teams at such events because it is about getting to know new people. The fact that we’re implementing such an action day together with FC Bayern is an extremely important signal of togetherness, also for a lot of small clubs that are increasingly engaging with this topic. Two years ago, we already implemented a joint training session with FC Bayern Women - our athletes still rave about it today. Our experience at these events is always that inclusion is not a one-way street; people without disabilities also learn how multi-faceted life is, that not everything runs smoothly and yet you can always look forward with joy. Such events are a win-win situation. We are very happy to link up with the FC Bayern family.”

The Allianz Arena previously lit up in purple on 3 December for International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

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