- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

BERLIN (AP) - Seven German second division clubs won’t take part in a tabloid-led initiative to declare solidarity for refugees in a backlash against controversial newspaper Bild.

St. Pauli, Union Berlin, Freiburg, Bochum, Nuremberg, Duisburg and Kaiserslautern all declared by Friday that their players will not wear a pro-refugee patch promoted by Bild.

Amid Europe’s refugee crisis, the newspaper wanted players at all first and second division games this weekend to display a patch on their left arms saying “We’re helping, (hashtag)refugeeswelcome” in place of the usual advert for a logistics company.

St. Pauli, the first side to declare its non-participation on Wednesday, drew an abrasive reaction from Bild editor Kai Diekmann, who sent tweets mocking the club and another claiming “No heart for refugees. A pity, @fcstpauli! (hashtag)refugeesnotwelcome.”

Teams said they were opting out of Bild’s initiative in solidarity with St. Pauli, a left-wing club that has long supported migrant rights and organized initiatives to support them.

The Hamburg-based club recently hosted Borussia Dortmund for a friendly under the motto “Refugees Welcome.” Around 1,000 migrants were invited from various accommodation around the city.

Diekmann’s tweets drew an angry reaction from fans with the hashtag “BILDnotwelcome” trending on Twitter in Germany.

Kaiserslautern became the latest club to announce its non-participation in the Bild action on Friday.

“Due to recent developments, the Kaiserslautern management realized that the matter is now unfortunately not about help for refugees, but on the attitude of clubs to individual media,” the club said.

Bild said in a statement that it was a “great pity that individual clubs don’t support the whole action of the German football league,” adding that “ultimately this is about a good thing.”

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