Brazil-born Claudemir Jeronimo Barreto, commonly known as “Cacau”, hung up his boots in October 2016 and took up his new duties in November. At the official presentation he talked about the responsibility of the professional football: “You can’t make a professional talk about social issues, but there is no doubt that we footballers share a responsibility and a duty to act as role models.
“I am looking forward to the challenged. I don’t want to just be the face, I want to really get into the issue,” he said. “I want to be an example for people who come to Germany.”
When Cacau arrived in Munich at the end of the 1990s to play for the lower league team Türk Gücü Munich, Cacau could not speak a word of German. There, the coach spoke Turkish and one of his teammates translated the team talks into German.
“I didn’t understand either one,” Cacau said. This experience taught him the importance of learning a language in the process of inclusion. “You really begin to understand that integration begins with yourself.”
Having represented Germany at the World Cup in South Africa, he taught his former teammates some basic Portuguese in preparation for the 2014 edition in Brazil, when he was no longer part of the playing squad.
“No single idea will solve everything. But once you realise that integration starts with the individual you are well on the way,” he concluded.