A few days after FC St. Pauli NYC donated more than $1,500 to the Immigrant Defense Project — a fundraiser you can read about here on this website — the leaders of the socially conscious supporters’ group exchanged emails with Soccer In NYC about their efforts to promote social justice in the name of their favorite football club.
In our interview, Sören Thode and Shawn Roggenkamp discussed their citywide activism, the club’s match-day fundraising, their passion for soccer and their group’s motto: “Say it loud, say it clear: ‘Assholes are not welcome here.'”
What made you choose the Immigrant Defense Project for the donation?
After doing some research and some screening we ended up with three or four organizations that appeared to be legitimate. In the end it was the size and structure of IDP and the local approach we had on mind that convinced the group and made us believe that IDP is the best fit.
Why do you think it is important to donate to immigrants’ rights organizations?
For many years we alternated between different international and local causes. We figured it would make more sense to finally focus on one and to try to connect with a local organization. Due to the harsh political climate and because many in our group are of immigrant backgrounds who experience the constant struggle with immigration authorities, it was quickly clear to us [this was the most critical issue.
The recent ‘Refugees Welcome’ campaign by St. Pauli fans also had an influence on our decision and we wanted to go in the same direction.
How often do you hold fundraisers?
We basically ask visitors and “members” for donations during the halftime break every game. Usually the cause is determined early in the season and funds are collected throughout the entire year. Occasionally we make ad hoc decisions and divert money for a game or two to support other causes like we did after the protest in Charlottesville or the hurricane in Puerto Rico.
In addition, we try to do an annual fundraiser party for the benefit of Viva Con Agua. Due to everyone’s busy schedules, we have done it about every other year. The events for VcA are always super fun and usually include a silent auction, live music, games and, of course, a match screening
How else do you demonstrate support for social justice in general and for immigrants in particular?
First of all, I think the diversity of our group and the actions that we take prove that we live what St. Pauli stands for.
Not only do we organize fundraisers, but we also occasionally participate in political protests in New York. We try to network here and there with other local soccer groups, St. Pauli fan clubs across the globe and the New York DIY music scene. We are all part of the big community regardless of race, color and heritage.
How does the club uphold the spirit and character of St. Pauli?
Our supporters group doesn’t have a book of ethics or rules, but we live by the same values that the official club promotes.
There is no need for us to have a moral preacher. You don’t have to be from Hamburg or be a crazy, die-hard football lover to be St Pauli fan. But you have to be conscious and have to like to party. Say it loud, say it clear: ‘Assholes are not welcome here.’