The Borussia Dortmund (BVB) football club was honored by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) on Thursday for its longstanding efforts to fight Jew-hatred and promote tolerance in sports.
The first-annual recognition, the 2023 Award for Outstanding Contributions in Combating Antisemitism in Sports, was presented CAM Advisory Board Member Lord John Mann — Independent Adviser to the British Government on Antisemitism — to BVB Sales and Marketing Manager Carsten Cramer at the closing dinner of the 2023 European Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism in Dortmund, Germany.
“What Borussia Dortmund has done in its antisemitism work is take that work out and into its fan base, spectators, and supporters — not just preaching, not just giving good messaging, but creating ownership of the Borussia Dortmund fight against antisemitism and all discrimination and hatred amongst the supporter base,” Mann said.
Upon accepting the award, Cramer said, “Yes, we are a football club, and we like to play ambitious and successful football, but we also know we are more than just a football club. We are still representing the city like we did the first day of the founding of our club in 1909. We really feel responsible and loyal, with solidarity to the city. We do have the power to influence people and give support to issues which problems. Especially in times like this, we know that even a football club can’t close the close it eyes. It is not a PR story, it’s not a marketing gimmick, it comes from our heart to fight antisemitism, to fight racism, to show the people there is something wrong in our society which shouldn’t repeat in comparison to our previous history.”
The award was given to BVB because of important initiatives the club has undertaken in recent years, including initiating Holocaust education programs for fans, employees, and sponsors, organizing workshops and lectures about antisemitism, visiting the Jewish community, adopting the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, and calling on other clubs around the world to follow suit.
Furthermore, BVB donated one million euros to Yad Vashem and invited survivors of the Oct. 7th Hamas massacre in Kibbutz Kfar Aza to Dortmund to attend a match. Numerous BVB representatives have also visited Israel over the years.
In summary remarks, CAM CEO Sacha Roytman, a Belgian-born third-generation Holocaust survivor, said, “Today we can celebrate unity, and we can look at the past and not be ashamed about what happened, because we can confront it, and we should confront the past to build a better future.”
Roytman noted that the first time he had ever traveled to Germany was only six months ago, for a summit preparatory visit.
“I was always afraid about my feelings to go to Germany,” he said. “Today I must say I will come back here many times, because the German government, the mayors of German cities who we have met, you are leading the way in the fight against antisemitism globally. It’s incredible what you are doing.”
Thursday’s dinner took place at the Phoenix des Lumières, a former gas treating plant in Dortmund that was recently transformed into an immersive art center.
“We are responsible in our cities for protecting Jewish life, building bridges between different cultures and religions, and we are responsible for peaceful coexistence in our cities,” Lord Mayor of Dortmund Thomas Westphal, chair of the summit, said. “That is what we do every day. I think the conclusion of this summit is clear. We have this responsibility. Good is good, but better carries it. That’s our promise to ourselves. To say we will walk even better. These times need better answers than these last days and weeks. We need a situation where we say we work for better times.”
Westphal said he was touched by the unveiling earlier in the day of a mural outside city hall honoring Dortmund’s only Jewish mayor, the late Paul Hirsch, and announced that the city would establish an annual “Paul Hirsch Award” commemorating his legacy.
“I promise you we want to work harder on this part of our history,” he said.
Other speakers included Michael Whine MBE, UK Member of the Council of Europe’s Commission Against Racism and Intolerance and co-founder of the Community Security Trust (CST), Laura Ellsworth, Partner-in-Charge of Global Community Service Initiatives at Jones Day and Co-Chair of the Eradicate Hate Summit, and Hertsmere Borough Council Leader Jeremy Newmark.
“Governments can make laws, but fighting antisemitism has to be done at the local level, and carried out by local government, local police, and local education authorities,” Whine said. “Governments are becoming ever more worried as Jewish communities live in fear and civil disorder is being threatened. You have a basic responsibility as mayors and local authorities to deal with this before it overwhelms your cities and ensure antisemitic crimes are prosecuted, enhance in the security of Jewish communities, and recognize the roles of Jews in Europe.”
It’s been an exciting day filled with insightful discussions, engaging panels, and inspiring stories from municipal leaders across Europe that make us hopeful for a future free of bigotry and hatred.
Tonight, we continue to hear these important stories and conversations continue… pic.twitter.com/PpbkeCBFQO
— Combat Antisemitism Movement (@CombatASemitism) November 30, 2023
More than 150 mayors, high-level municipal leaders, diplomats, and communal leaders from over 60 cities and 30 countries participated in the Dortmund summit, held under the banner of “Fostering Cultural Diversity.”
For more information about the summit, please read: