Web furore seals fan’s dying wish

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THE CATHOLIC church in Germany has bowed to online pressure to allow the parents of a nine-year-old boy who died of a brain tumour to erect a gravestone featuring a football and the logo of his favourite team, Borussia Dortmund.

Officials at the Church of Maria Heimsuchung refused to allow the gravestone for Jens Pascal, saying it broke a ban on non-Christian inscriptions and images. But an online campaign spawned more than 100,000 angry messages and the story made national headlines.

Young Jens had told his mother, Nicole Schmidt, before he died: “Mummy, when I die, I would like a gravestone with the club logo.”

Fans from Dortmund and other German clubs bombarded a Facebook page “The Last Wish of Jens Pascal” with messages expressing disbelief at the church.

The church issued a statement late on Monday saying it had agreed a compromise under which the gravestone could be erected, but with the sculpture of a ball on the ground rather than on top. It will also bear a Christian symbol, probably a dove.

“It was never the intention of the church to stand in the way of the little boy’s last wish,” it said. “It was about reconciling the interests of the church community, the cemetery rules and the interests of the parents of the child who died.”