Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – After Borussia Dortmund’s fans opened their doors to Monaco rivals stranded by a bomb attack that postponed their match, the visitors returned the solidarity gesture Wednesday decked out in the German squad’s black and yellow.
At the centre of the western city, Monaco fans were piling into the German club’s boutique, snapping up Dortmund gear before kick-off at 6:45 pm (1645 GMT).
“We’ve sold hundreds of scarves and jerseys since this morning, and it’s almost only the French who’ve been buying,” said Sultan Karakas, who was manning the boutique’s till.
In the shop, groups of supporters were discussing the three blasts Tuesday evening that hit Borussia’s team bus, shattering the vehicle’s windows and injuring two people, including defender Marc Bartra.
But talk also turned to how visiting fans were charmed by their hosts, who were in turn touched by the support shown by their rivals.
Boris Marchi, 26, who had knotted the red and yellow scarf of his club Monaco to the yellow and black of Dortmund, told AFP he was offered lodging by a German supporter.
“It was really a beautiful moment, and meeting,” he said, adding that he was meeting his benefactor for a drink before kick-off.
With the Twitter hashtag #bedforawayfans, Dortmund supporters offered many of the 3,000 visiting fans a kip for the night.
Borussia Dortmund’s official account had promoted the heartwarming initiative to “Dear supporters of AS Monaco”.
“We have received solidarity across a wide range of society,” Dortmund president Reinhard Rauball told public broadcaster ZDF.
“Dortmund fans were ready to go to the Monaco fans to offer help,” he added, revealing a friend of his had offered to accommodate 10 away fans.
Several Dortmund fans posted pictures of themselves at home with relieved Monaco supporters.
“It’s obvious: if we were stranded somewhere abroad, we would have also wanted to have some accommodation made possible,” Dortmund fan Renke Reichler told Munich-based paper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Reichler and his wife took in five Monaco fans for the night.
“We wanted to offer them a classic German beer, but they are Muslims and don’t drink anything,” he said, before adding that the ice was quickly broken.
The couple have been invited to Lille as a thank you.
– ‘They must not win’ –
The Monaco contingent of about 3,000 were in turn praised for their gesture in chanting “Dortmund, Dortmund” after the attack was announced in the stadium.
“I was proud of the solidarity shown by the red and white fans,” Pascal Pedro, a Monaco fan “for more than 40 years”, told AFP.
The show of friendship on both sides was widely lauded.
Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the supporters for their “calm” behaviour and the host side for their hospitality, while former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright said on Twitter “I love this football club (Dortmund)” in a reference to #bedforawayfans.
British Labour MP David Lammy, whose London constituency includes the Tottenham Hotspur ground, called on his Twitter followers to check the Dortmund initiative “if you need cheering up this morning! Wonderful solidarity.”
Not all travelling Monaco fans found somewhere comfortable to sleep however and some ended up spending the night in their cars.
“I will remember it again in 10 years, even if it is also unfortunate,” said Arthur Glapa, 22, having spent the night in a car with a friend after driving from the northern French town of Douai.
“We were a little cold, but we re-started the heating every two hours and we also laughed,” he said, adding they were offered breakfast by a couple camping nearby.
As a sign of solidarity with the injured Dortmund player, Glapa had the name ‘Bartra’ printed on the back of his replica Monaco shirt.
“At first they did not want to print (Bartra) on a Monaco jersey, but the store manager intervened,” he said.
Some French fans have already travelled home, but others stayed to make a statement.
“We were there to party,” sighs Julien Nedjar, “it must not be them (the terrorists) who win.”
Others preferred not to take the risk this time.
Juergen Schueltz, 51, told AFP: “We were afraid, we have four children, we’re going home. It’s too dangerous.”
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