Review: Here To Stay – FC Lampedusa

In the first seconds a massive explosion rocks the screen. Any fair documentary on the current refugee crisis is bound to be hard to view. The truth of war always is. Amongst all the personal tragedy, however, “Here to Stay” gives us all another reason to be proud of FC St. Pauli, and the St. Pauli district of Hamburg. The series Religion of Sports, an American based series produced by NFL Stars Tom Brady and Michael Strahan and filmmaker Gotham Chopra focuses on the uniting aspects of sports. Where this could easily have been a documentary about the Kult of St. Pauli, its content speaks to so much more about what the club and the fans are about.

FC Lampedusa was set up to support refugees in Hamburg. It uses the prism of football to give those who have lost everything a new hope and purpose. A reason to keep going. Those with more than a casual interest in FCSP will be familiar with the yellow red and brown trikot and the ethos. “Refugees Welcome” is not a trite throw away to those behind the team. It is a mission statement. Nico and Hagar embody that as coaches and organisers. The passion with which they speak of their work transcends language, transcends everything that could possibly divide.

Within the documentary the history of the St. Pauli district and its football club are interwoven. St. Pauli; the outsider’s district. Home to the undesirables, the fishers, dockers and prostitutes. Where cultures and ideas came into the docks and spread round the bars and restaurants. A place where people would later form a revolution on the terraces.

“Kein Mensch ist Illegal” features prominently where such club luminaries such as Sven Brux and Oke Götllich talk about St. Pauli, how our club has no place for fascism, racism, sexism and homophobia. We stand for inclusion, no matter where you have come from.

“Lots of wars are happening which makes people need to leave their homes and not welcoming them does not fit with our culture.” Our chairman gets it.

The concept of refuge and finding a home is looked at deeper than the superficial level of asylum seekers. Pat, labelled a superfan, is given a chance to talk about being rejected by his community in Germany. His punk attitudes and look not fitting with his deeply Catholic neighbours. He found a home on the Millerntor.

The story of the refugees is undoubtedly harrowing. Having faced war in their hometown and unsafe crossings into Europe they are welcomed into Hamburg with stays in prefab buildings and reclaimed former supermarket. These mini-communities are mere halfway houses while humans wait for a decision on whether they will be granted a home or sent back that which they left behind. But not only this wait, refugees face hostility from locals who don’t agree with Germany’s policy of supporting refugees. Hard-hitting signs of “Rape-fugees Not Welcome” and “No Islamfication Of Europe” almost seem to placed as a point of balancing argument at first. When they later resurface, it is in the context of locals who seem willing to give their life to defend refugees finding solace in a church.

There also remains a lovely cameo for our friends from Glasgow and Yorkshire St. Pauli in last season’s pre-Sonderzug friendly. Some questionable YSP play is not the point. These guys support refugees in their own community, and over in Hamburg. FC Lampedusa is a part of that. An international friendship bonded under the terraces of the Millerntor, for an unquestionable good. And it is that message, one of support and compassion and a bond of friendship of people from very different walks of life that is the overarching message of this film. A message we daub on our terraces, we put on our stickers, and we, as the custodians of the FC St. Pauli name and ethos, live day-to-day.

Editor’s note: The documentary is not currently publicly available. There are various people trying to work on access to the rights to make it public, but this is very difficult as it was aired on a subscription channel in the United States. In the interests of protecting those who have helped us gain access we will not be providing a link until we know they are safe from Legal action. Thanks for understanding. We hope we can make it public for you all soon!