Football clubs across Europe have been making headlines for the gestures of support being made to the Syrian refugees pouring into the continent seeking to escape their war torn homelands. Beginning in Germany with massive support in the terraces, Bundesliga clubs began stepping forward to offer financial aid, training, language lessons, and the same respite that many fans take for granted: the chance to spend a blissful afternoon at a football match.
The Bundesliga has certainly taken the lead thus far, with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, FC St Pauli, and Werder Bremen, amongst others, throwing their support to the cause. Germany has taken more refugees than any other nation in Europe, and the support on the part of the nation's football family has been overwhelming.
That hasn't been the case further afield in the UK, with Aston Villa fans being the only Premier League supporters thus far to make any kind of reference to the situation. That's about to change, though, as all of England's clubs in European competition will be making a financial contribution to the cause.
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
In the affluent world of English football, €1 per ticket is not exactly a hardship to part with. When Liverpool take on FC Sion at Anfield on October 1, a little over €45,000 (approx. £32,900) will be donated to refugee related charities. It's a sum that if re-contextualized as a weekly football salary would be a wage somewhere between Alberto Moreno's and Jon Flanagan's.
For those hoping England's top tier clubs would provide meaningful support to the refugee crisis the way their continental counterparts have, this €1 per ticket gesture might ring a bit hollow. English clubs' silence on the situation exacerbates the feeling that the country's representatives in Champions League and Europa League are participating in this campaign not because it's the right thing to do but because they couldn't very well say no without coming across very poorly.
The Premier League clarified all twenty clubs' positions on in-stadium banners on Wednesday, as if anticipating an increase in potentially controversial banner-related activity in grounds around the country. Whether we're likely to see similar REFUGEES WELCOME signs at matches when Premier League action resumes on Saturday remains to be seen, but in leaving any and all action to fan groups alone, the EPL and its member teams are missing a huge opportunity to show fans there really is more to football than money.