How Soccer's Biggest Teams Are Helping Solve Europe's Refugee Crisis

by Adam Silvers

Facing its worst refugee crisis since World War II, Europe is searching for answers.

Several hundred thousand displaced persons -- most of whom hail from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan -- have been forced from their homes as a result of war.

They are fleeing to Europe, where, after a treacherous journey, they're being met with both support and hostility.

Some, like 3-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, fail to make it at all.

And while the continent's leaders work to try and solve the issues at hand, an unexpected group is stepping up to deliver an immediate impact.

In Germany, the government stated it will provide shelter for 800,000 Syrians who fled their homes, and the country's soccer clubs immediately followed suit.

German champions Bayern Munich pledged a donation of about $1.1 million to help aid refugees and will host "training camps" for youths who traveled such great distances.

Training camps, donations, and more - see what #FCBayern is pledging to the refugee crisis: — FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) September 3, 2015

But, that's just the tip of the iceberg. The club will also provide kids with German language classes, soccer gear and meals.

Bayern's chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, said,

We at FC Bayern consider it our socio-political responsibility to help displaced and needy children, women and men, supporting and assisting them in Germany.

At the start of Bayern's match on September 12, players will be escorted to the field by both German and refugee children, providing one of the greatest aids money can't buy: exposure.

The Bavarians have millions of followers worldwide, and this act will thrust the growing refugee crisis directly into the spotlight.

Bayern's Javi Martínez has taken up the call to action as well; the Spaniard recently visited a Munich train station to sign autographs and show his support for those currently without homes.

Toda ayuda es poca!!! Welcome refugees! — Javi Martínez (@Javi8martinez) September 4, 2015

Other German teams have taken note of what Bayern is doing and are quickly stepping up to do everything in their power to support the refugees.

Borussia Dortmund recently gave out free match tickets so refugees could experience a bit of enjoyment during such a harrowing and uncertain period.

220 Flüchtlinge des Projekts "Angekommen in Dortmund", zu Gast bei #bvbodd. #refugeeswelcome — Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) August 29, 2015

Other teams are planning to turn stadium parking lots into refugee camps and organize fundraising matches.

.@fcstpauli & @BVB will face off in a charity friendly today & have invited 1000 recent refugees to the match. — KICKTV (@KICKTV) September 8, 2015

The growing refugee support movement received an additional boost after Germany's national team released a video condemning racism and preaching understanding during this tumultuous period.

The global game's aid and assistance for those caught in the crosshairs of death and destruction extend far beyond Germany, though.

Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid also pledged a $1.1 million donation to the refugee cause while Scotland's Celtic FC donated all the funds from a recent friendly match to support those who have been forced to leave their homelands.

The Celtic FC Foundation's chief executive, Tony Hamilton, said,

This is absolutely the right thing for us to do. Our club was formed by immigrants, many of whom had escaped the devastation of the great famine. Celtic was created to offer vital help in a time of need and we feel it is important that we are there again.

In addition to some of its biggest clubs, a few of soccer's most popular individuals are also speaking out in support of those who have gone unheard for so long.

Cristiano Ronaldo tweeted he and his home nation of Portugal are well aware of what's happening in Europe and are standing with the refugees.

No one at the National Team is indifferent to Europe's refuggee crisis. All our thoughts are with those people. — Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) September 3, 2015

In England, a group of soccer supporters created the #RefugeesWelcome movement.

The group is also urging as many soccer fans as possible to create pro-refugee banners to put on display at matches all over the country this Saturday, September 12.

Let's see how many #RefugeesWelcome banners we can get in English football grounds on 12th September! Please share! — #RefugeesWelcome EFL (@RefugeesEFL) September 2, 2015

The latest example of the beautiful game's pro-refugee stance is the ultimate showing of European soccer solidarity.

Yesterday, it was confirmed all Champions League and Europa League teams will coordinate to donate portions of ticket proceeds to the refugee relief effort.

The 80 @ChampionsLeague & @EuropaLeague clubs have agreed that €1/ticket for their first home game will be donated to the refugee cause. — FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) September 8, 2015

Right now, uncertainty appears to be the key theme in Europe -- not just for refugees seeking asylum, but for European officials who will play key roles in how this crisis unfolds in the coming weeks and months.

That's why European soccer's united, unwavering support of refugees is incredibly uplifting and also extremely necessary.

Ceylan Hussein, a former press officer for Germany's St. Pauli FC, summed it up best, saying,

Club and fans are known to be continuously calling for more people to accept social responsibility. This isn't for the good of the game, it's for the good of humanity.

Soccer will always be a religion in Europe, but this past month or so proves some things are more important than what happens in 90 minutes on the field.

Citations: Real Madrid offers $1.1 million to aid refugees in Spain (CNN), Bayern Munich and other soccer teams pitch in to help Europe's wave of refugees (Washington Post), English football supporters' groups to show 'Refugees Welcome' banners (The Guardian)