FC Bayern signing Neuer

Signing for the FC Bayern players

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The deaf fan club "Red Deaf" has developed signs for the FC Bayern men's and women's players in recent months. In future, Manuel Neuer and colleagues will be presented in a more integrated way when the line-ups are read out at the Allianz Arena – a connection in silence. A visit to the filming of the clips:

Tarek Buchmann has to pay attention. He slowly brings his right hand forward from his temple, thumb and index finger forming a triangle from his angle of vision. It is the gesture for "Mann", the second syllable of his surname. The young Bayern pro is doing everything right, Micky Meincke from the "Red Deaf FC Bayern Fan Club" is satisfied. If Buchmann had lowered his hand, he would have signed "Depp" instead of Mann.

FC Bayern signing Leon Goretzka
Leon Goretzka at the filming of the signs for the FC Bayern players.

Micky Meincke, fan club chairwoman Martina Bechtold and Stefan Kösters pay close attention to every gesture in the Allianz Arena today. Details matter – see Buchmann, who is not supposed to be a "book dork". In their fan club, the deaf developed a sign for each FCB player and each member of the coaching team over a period of six months, studying games and researching characteristic features on the internet. Then the project was set in motion via Kim Krämer, the club's disabled fan representative – and now they are involved in filming the video clips that will in future show Thomas Müller and Co when the line-ups are read out at the Allianz Arena. "It's a great moment for us, hard to describe," Martina Bechtold has sign language interpreter Daniel Rose translate, and Stefan Kösters adds: "We are so happy that our worlds are growing together; we feel more and more like a real part of the FC Bayern family. It would be a dream if everyone remembered these signs."

FC Bayern Red Deaf
The members of the Red Deaf fan club have developed a sign for every player and member of the FC Bayern coach staff over six months.

The players, at any rate, are immediately taken with it and on the ball. One after the other, they come into the TV studio, and again and again they stay on as spectators after their recording: Joshua Kimmich is curious about how Serge Gnabry signs, Müller tells Leon Goretzka that the Kimmich gesture means a raised eyebrow because the midfielder is characterised by his facial expressions. During a break in filming, Thomas Tuchel is interviewed. He finds the initiative extremely important, says the coach, moreover it's nice that it comes from the core of the fans. "It's very much in line with Uli Hoeneß' thinking of what FC Bayern stands for: that everyone belongs to this club, that the club always lives up to its integrative role in our society and that no one feels excluded here." Manuel Neuer feels it's "an honour that fans have come up with signs for us – we are very proud of them".

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting signing
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting shows how it's done: The sign space is in front of the upper body between the head and the belly button.

On this day, the players not only sign their own names, but also the international gesture for Bayern Munich as well as the signs developed by the fan club for "Mia san mia" and the cross-club initiative "Red against Racism", which is also committed to the issue of inclusion. For "Bayern", the right hand first circles clockwise like a lion's claw over the centre of the chest before it is then raised to the right side of the head for "München" to represent a crest of the Frauenkirche. For "Mia san mia", you circle interlocked hands in front of the chest to symbolise the club's togetherness. For "Red against Racism", you pull an imaginary red card out of your pocket at the end. "I think it's cool and totally interesting to learn such signs," says Jamal Musiala, "now I know a lot more than I did 10 minutes ago."

After many hours, the "Red Deaf" trio draw a satisfied conclusion. "I thought it would be harder for the players, you have to pay attention to a lot of nuances," says Micky. "I personally found Konrad Laimer the funniest today, a super guy." Micky once drew Uli Hoeneß a picture as a child, and when the then manager immediately replied with a nice letter, he finally became an FCB fan. "Today I am very proud to be a fan of FC Bayern," says Stefan, "this club is really a family." Martina gestures at his side with a happy smile: "Mia san mia!"

Photos: Dominik Gigler.

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