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Germany’s World Cup chapels reopened after receiving red

They were given a red card and closed by world soccer’s governing body, but chapels for players seeking Christian spiritual support during the World Cup in Germany have now reopened after protests from churches.

The chapels opened in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup but were closed by FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, before the 9 June kickoff to the world’s largest sports extravaganza on security grounds and out of respect for the beliefs of players of other religions.

"FIFA did not want to hurt the religious feelings of people of other faiths," Gerd Graus, the spokesperson of the World Cup organizing committee told the Protestant news agency epd in Berlin.

But Germany’s top Protestant bishop, Wolfgang Huber, stated that "no one of another faith is hurt or excluded by a Christian place of prayer", and following the church intervention, the two chapels at the stadiums in Berlin and in Gelsenkirchen near Dortmund have reopened for team players.

"We asked FIFA not to overact about the chapels," Bernhard Felmberg, the sports liaison officer for the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg told Ecumenical News International.

Meanwhile, parishes throughout Germany are offering multi-lingual pastoral care to the hundreds of thousands of fans of all nationalities who are following their favourite teams.

In Berlin, meditations are held at half-time in two of the city’s biggest churches, the Berlin Cathedral, and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

That will make 63 half-time meditations, Felmberg noted, by the time the final whistle is blown on 9 July.

(c) Ecumenical News International