Facebook campaign wins German boy soccer gravestone

Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:45am EST
 

BERLIN (Reuters) - A church in Germany has bowed to public pressure and allowed the parents of a soccer-mad nine-year old boy who died from a brain tumor to erect a gravestone with a ball beside it after a Facebook campaign spawned more than 100,000 angry messages.

The dispute between the boy's parents and a Catholic church in the western city of Dortmund made national headlines.

Newspapers printed poignant pictures of the dying boy in hospital last Christmas with Juergen Klopp, coach of his favorite club Borussia Dortmund.

Shortly before his death, Jens Pascal had told his mother he wanted a gravestone that reflected his passion - the club which won Germany's Bundesliga just days before he died in May.

"Mummy, when I die, I would like a gravestone with the club logo," Pascal's mother, Nicole Schmidt, told Bild daily.

But the Church of Maria Heimsuchung in Dortmund refused to erect a stone engraved with the club's logo and a soccer ball on top, arguing that it did not conform to rules which ban non-Christian inscriptions and images.

Soccer fans from Dortmund and other prominent German clubs took to the Internet and bombarded a Facebook page "The Last Wish of Jens Pascal" with messages expressing anger and disbelief at the church.

"It is outrageous," read one. "I ask the Church not to be led by regulations, show us your heart!" said another.

"It doesn't matter if you're a fan of Bayern, Gladbach or wherever. In this case we stand together and will only stop when this child's last wish is granted!" said another.   Continued...

 
File picture shows Borussia Dortmund's coach Juergen Klopp as he celebrates a goal of his team during the German Bundesliga first division soccer match against 1. FC Kaiserslautern in Kaiserslautern, April 28, 2012. A church in western Germany has bowed to public pressure and allowed the parents of a soccer-mad nine-year old boy who died from a brain tumour to erect a gravestone with a football after a Facebook campaign spawned more than 100,000 angry messages. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File