Echte Liebe ("true love" or "real love") is the unofficial motto of the German soccer club Borussia Dortmund. It's what the players say they feel for their fans, and the fans love them right back.
In fact, to some people soccer is (like) a religion. It is rare, however, that the love of soccer and established religion clash. One of those rare cases is the story of nine-year-old Jens Pascal, whose dying wish was to have a soccer-themed grave.
Nine-year-old Jens Pascal was a huge fan of defending Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund. So passionate was his love for his favorite team that when he found out he was dying of a brain tumor, he told his mother that he wanted the Borussia logo on his gravestone.
His parents promised to fulfill his wish, but six month after Jens' passing, there is still only a provisional wooden marker on his grave. The reason: the Catholic congregation that owns the cemetery refused to approve the gravestone design that Jens' parents submitted.
He was supposed to have a granite stele with a soccer ball on top and emblazoned with the Borussia logo and the motto "True Love." The church council, however, denied the family's request. Congregation representatives decided that the design was unworthy of a Catholic cemetery, and any symbolic depictions should be Christian in nature.
Jens Pascal's parents, determined to grant their little guy's final request, went public, and the church was surprised by the ensuing storm of righteous indignation. A Facebook group in support of the grave formed and has to date more than 100,000 members. Catholic Borussia fans threatened to leave the church. The church council members realized that it was bad PR to deny the dying wish of a young boy and signaled that they were willing to compromise.
In the revised gravestone design, the soccer ball is replaced by a dove, the symbol of peace and the Holy Spirit. The "True Love" motto can stay, as well as the Borussia logo. The latter is only fitting since the team's coach and some of the players visited Jens in the hospital. The articles on the story do not mention whether and how often the priest came.
So six months after his burial, young Jens Pascal will finally get his gravestone. The question is, though, whether it will be noticed among all the soccer paraphernalia with which his friends have covered the grave.