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How Frankfurt fans gave Baku kids final thrills

(FIFA.com)
  • Eintracht Frankfurt fans had to buy Europa League final tickets in advance
  • They graciously donated them to the SOS Children’s Village in Baku
  • Chelsea-Arsenal proved "an experience of a lifetime for the children"

Eintracht Frankfurt were undoubtedly the surprise package of last season’s UEFA Europa League. Having narrowly avoided relegation from the Bundesliga in 2016, the team from the German state of Hesse only lost to eventual winners Chelsea in the semi-finals after dispatching Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica and Inter Milan en route.

Eintracht’s fans were as impressive in the stands as their team were on the pitch. With an imposing presence away from home and impressive choreography in their own stadium, Die Adler’s loyal supporters helped the club to make new friends across Europe.

Yet Eintracht’s fans left the deepest impression of all after their team exited the competition. As if missing out on a trip to Baku was not enough, when it proved difficult to sell tickets to the final that they had purchased prior to the semi-final, the fanbase launched a campaign to gather their tickets together and donate them to SOS Children’s Villages in Azerbaijan.

SOS Children’s Villages in brief

  • 572 Children’s Villages across the world currently offer vulnerable children a safe place to live
  • More than 81,000 children live in SOS Children’s Villages
  • The non-governmental organisation also supports nursery schools, youth initiatives, social centres, medical centres and family assistance programmes
  • SOS Children’s Villages website

"A Europa League final would be an incredible experience for many children in Baku who could not normally afford to go to the game," the campaign’s organisers told Eintracht fans in a statement. "Even we were surprised by the wave of support and generosity."

The 300 tickets eventually collected were more than the SOS Children’s Village in Baku could use, so the remaining tickets were passed on to other local organisations. And as if that were not enough, the club’s fans also raised more than EUR 3,000 in cash donations for the SOS Children’s Village in Baku.

"We are all extremely grateful," said the national director of SOS Children’s Villages in Azerbaijan, Rashad Huseynov, after Chelsea beat league rivals Arsenal 4-1 in the final. "The kids had a fantastic day. We would like to thank Eintracht Frankfurt’s fans for the unforgettable experience they gave them. Giving the SOS children tickets to the Europa League final was a wonderful idea!"