World Football

When Christmas and football collide

Merry Christmas
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  • A Christmas truce, boxes for the homeless and carol singing
  • Stories, tweets and videos that highlight the magic of the festive season
  • To all of our readers celebrating, we wish you a very merry Christmas 🎄

Christmas is almost here, and with it the start of a very special and atmospheric holiday season that has a magical aura about it. It has also prompted many memorable moments in the footballing world, from the fun and amusing to the kind and thought-provoking.

Whether large or small, these Christmas miracles can bring smiles to our faces or show us that we have the power to make this world a better place. We have put together a few stories, tweets and videos to highlight the magic of Christmas. We hope you enjoy them!

🎶 Silent night, holy night...

The First World War was primarily fought in the trenches. Far from home and their families, soldiers found the relentlessness of this military conflict and the harsh winter cold particularly difficult to endure at Christmas. On Christmas Eve 1914, candlelight could be seen in the German trenches at Ypres, Belgium. Fearing an imminent attack, the British soldiers in the opposite trenches held their breath, only to hear the familiar melodies of Christmas carols instead of gunfire. Soldiers from both sides cautiously ventured out of their trenches to greet one another.

No Man’s Land, as the area between the two sets of trenches was called, gradually filled with ‘enemies’ who shared the few items they had with each other. This fraternisation went so well that someone even suggested playing a football match. While the Germans are said to have won the game 2-1, the real winner that night was the human heart. To the disappointment of all, hostilities resumed after the last Christmas greetings were exchanged. The war ultimately dragged on for almost another four years.

🎶 Last Christmas...

…and this year too! This particular story began in 2003, when 89 Union Berlin fans equipped with mulled wine and biscuits snuck into the stands near the halfway line at Stadion An der Alten Försterei to sing Christmas carols and forget about the club’s sporting woes. Since then, Union supporters have gathered to sing festive tunes every year at 19:00 on 23 December in an event that has now grown to include carollers from many different generations and clubs.

"We’ve had umpteen offers from famous musicians and choirs, and we’ve always said: ‘No, it’s a family celebration; the school choir from the grammar school around the corner sings here. There’s a male-voice choir, a brass ensemble – all amateurs, all family, just as you might play music together at home at Christmas. No matter how big the event has become, that has never changed. In some ways, it’s also the secret to its success," said Christian Arbeit, Union Berlin’s press officer and spokesman, in a 2017 report by Spiegel Online.

🎶 Santa Claus is coming to town...

With his red and white clothing, those watching the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and German giants Bayern Munich in December 2016 could have been forgiving for confusing the man of the moment with one of the FCB players. It certainly fooled Thiago who, while looking for a team-mate to pass to, instead picked out an animated Santa dashing across the pitchside LED advertising banners in his trademark red coat. Luckily Juan Bernat came to his rescue and collected the ball before it rolled out of play.

🎶 Do they know it’s Christmas time?

They certainly do at Premier League club Crystal Palace. Working in partnership with Croydon Council, the English top-flight side will once again open the doors of their Selhurst Park ground to provide emergency accommodation for the homeless this winter.

Whenever nighttime temperatures drop below freezing, the Glaziers Lounge will be transformed into a temporary overnight shelter staffed by volunteers, including club staff, and specialists from the council’s homelessness services. New arrivals will be welcomed with a camp bed for the night, a hot evening meal, breakfast and washing facilities before the space is converted back for normal club use each morning.

"Following the success of the scheme last winter, we are reopening our emergency shelter to help those most in need," said Crystal Palace chief executive Phil Alexander. "We are working in collaboration with Croydon Council and our objective is not only to give rough sleepers a bed for the night, but also to help get them off the streets. Last year, we were able to find jobs for two people referred to the shelter."

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