European Football Champions as Players and Coaches
Walther Bensemannalways strongly advocated for football as a way to increase understanding among nations. He envisioned the reconciliation of nations through sport, even going so far as to talk of a United States of Europe over 100 years ago!
I was overjoyed to be asked about becoming a patron of the Walther Bensemann Remembrance Tournament. In 2016, I was presented the Walther Bensemann Award, at which time it became pretty clear that I would be taking on this role. Walther Bensemannalways strongly advocated for football as a way to increase understanding among nations. He envisioned the reconciliation of nations through sport, even going so far as to talk of a United States of Europe over 100 years ago!
It may be three years since I received the request for my patronage due to the pandemic, but the tournament is more important than ever today. War has since erupted in Ukraine, right in the heart of Europe. At the end of May, we organised a benefit match for the Ukraine in Hamburg to demonstrate our solidarity with the people living there.
The eight clubs represented in the Walther Bensemann Remembrance Tournament from five different European nations will come together in Nuremberg to demonstrate what Europe really represents: peace and tolerance. They will learn from Holocaust survivors what happens when anti-Semitism, intolerance and hate are allowed to slip through the cracks Young talented players from Poland, England, Israel, Italy and Germany will not just play against each other at this tournament, but also learn to develop relationships built on mutual respect, tolerance and integration. Many players at the tournament will soon become role models for other young people. That’s why it’s so crucial that they discuss and embody these concepts together. These values also play a major role in my work at the Hamburger SV youth training centre. As a European champion and Bensemann award-winner, I am therefore honoured to be a patron of this tournament.
Special thanks go out to all those at !NieWieder and Makkabi Germany responsible for organising the event along with all supporters and the large number of helpers. The international field of participants is highly renowned, demonstrating how well this tournament is regarded. This is only furthered by the other celebrity patrons, such as Charlotte Knobloch, Dr Josef Schuster and Marcus König. Last but not least, the support this tournament receives from the German Football Association, the German Football League and UEFA along with other sponsors highlights the vast support for the tournament. I would also like to thank Kicker magazine for the partnership and drawing well-deserved attention to this tournament in the world of football.
I wish all participants and helpers all the best during the tournament events, a fun time playing football and many great memories for years to come!
Dr Charlotte Knobloch
President of the Jewish Community in Munich and Upper Bavaria
We have Bensemann to thank for the football magazine Kicker and the key insight that football has the power to bring people together across borders.
If we take a close look at the reality Europe faces in 2022, there are plenty of things to worry about. War and hardship have returned to our continent, with hate once again turning into violence. Something we viewed as a remnant of the past. The one thing that provides a glimmer of hope today is the unity against relapsing into dark times which is shared by many people across national borders. Unity is our greatest strength.
But it doesn’t just happen. It needs to be developed and strengthened – including across borders. This was recognised back in the day by Walther Bensemann Z” L,. a veritable pioneer of German football who is largely overlooked today. We have Bensemann to thank for the football magazine Kicker and the key insight that football has the power to bring people together across borders. . Bensemann was ahead of his time with these notions back in the 1920s.
It’s therefore high time to honour his memory and promote the values he represented. I am delighted that the International Walther Bensemann Remembrance Tournament hosted this year in Nuremberg constitutes a football event that brings young people together through sporty competition in the spirit of Bensemann. When youth teams from throughout Europe fight to win the tournament, they always have the trophy in mind. But, as is always the case in football, the path to glory is the goal. The collective atmosphere stirred up by the competition is a major triumph in itself.
That’s why I feel highly honoured to support the tournament as a patron this year and wish everyone involved good luck and lots of fun for their teams. One thing is for sure: Walther Bensemann would have been very proud of you all!
Lord Mayor of Nuremberg
If we want to win people over, it must include tolerance, civil courage, re-spect, human dignity, unconventional approaches, creativity, and originality are needed. Hardly any other field offers such excellent conditions in this context as sports.
Nuremberg in particular has had to experience a painful past, where it leads when racist slo-gans prepare the basis for inhuman politics. After all, the racial laws passed in 1935 are inseparably linked to our city. Therefore, we have a special duty to ensure that such things never happen again. Anti-Semitism, extremism, xenophobia, and racism have no place here.
If we want to win people over, it must include tolerance, civil courage, re-spect, human dignity, unconventional approaches, creativity, and originality are needed. Hardly any other field offers such excellent conditions in this context as sports. Walther Bensemann also shared these views, and passionately fought for his pacifist and peo-ple-unifying ideas. The founding of the kicker-sport magazine in Nuremberg was for him a symbol of the recon-ciliation of nations through sport. And team sports, especially soccer, can reinforce this function. Soccer is not just about excitement, emotion, victory, or defeat. It also means showing respect and appreciation for the opponent.
The Walther Bensemann Memorial Tournament – as the past has already shown – is a great opportunity to activate more people to courageously stand up for diversity playfully The initiative “!Never Again” and Makkabai Deutschland are sending a positive message for democracy and against discrimination for the 32nd time. I am pleased that young people can approach such important topics in different ways besides sports. A critical debate can and should ultimately help immunize our society against racist thinking and strengthen democratic cohesion. As a “city of peace and human rights”, it is particularly important for us to set new, hopeful signs, preserve the peaceful coexistence of people from different backgrounds and cultures, and stand up for many colors and lifestyles.
The weekend promises a real soccer experience – on and off the pitch. The excellent facilities of the club grounds of 1. FC Nuremberg will certainly contribute to the success of this event. I would like to thank all those who have initiated and support this tournament, as well as the many helpers for their commitment, and wish everyone involved a successful event with many interesting personal encounters and exciting sporting matches.
Dr Joseph Schuster
President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany
In the midst of a rise in anti-Semitism and racism, which doesn’t stop at the gates to football stadiums and the ranks of the football pitch, this tournament sends an important signal. Because it combines top-class sport with social responsibility.
Dear readers, footballers,
Over 30 years have passed since the last Walther Bensemann tournament. I am delighted to hear that the remembrance tournament will once again take place after this extended break. Breathing new life into this major international sporting event is a truly great idea.
In the midst of a rise in anti-Semitism and racism, which doesn’t stop at the gates to football stadiums and the ranks of the football pitch, this tournament sends an important signal. Because it combines top-class sport with social responsibility. The supporting programme and interview with Holocaust survivors highlight how the organisers of the Walther Bensemann tournament want to boost the role of players as ambassadors for democracy and against discrimination. I would therefore like to thank the ‘!Nie Wieder’ [Never Again] initiative and MACCABI Germany for organising the tournament along with the numerous partners and sponsors for their support. . It is with great delight that I have taken on the role of patron for this special sporting event.
I look forward to greeting the large crowds of football fans that will gather in Nurenberg from 28 to 31 July 2022. I would also like to wish the players good luck and hope they have a great time on the field! It is my hope that the International Walther Bensemann Tournament, in spirit of its namesake, brings us all to a state of peaceful coexistence, respect and tolerance, both off and on the football pitch.