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Peace and Harmony at 11 Meters

Fussballfest vom BFV
The holy men's soccer game saw passion trump patience on the pitch.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    In a multicultural corner of Berlin, an annual soccer match brings together different faiths and is hungrily watched by their congregations.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • This year, a rabbi was the referee for the ninth annual meeting between Christians and Muslims on the soccer field.
    • Germany’s mandatory religion tax of 8 percent of income is forcing many Christians to leave their churches.
    • Meanwhile, the number of Muslim worshippers in Berlin has remained constant, and new mosques are being built.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

By half time, the score was 6 to 1 with the imams in the lead. The pastors were sweating.

For anyone who had watched the World Cup this summer, the soccer game between Berlin’s Muslim and Protestant leaders seemed pretty tame. There were no penalty cards or injuries and only a brief clash when the pastors’s 6-foot-3-inch tall goalkeeper and an imam forward locked over the ball.

After a moment of tension, the men grinned and gave each other a quick hug.

The balls passed quickly and crisply between the imams throughout the game. The pastors were reduced to watching.

At the far end of the field, the afternoon moved slowly as most of the action took place near the pastors’ goal.

“I wasn’t bored, just under-challenged,” said the imam goalkeeper, Yasin.

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