Last September, Miguel Ángel Galán was busy in his office south of Madrid when he happened to glance up at a TV on in the background.
He was shocked by what he saw: footage of a Hungarian TV camerawoman kicking migrants and refugees as they scrambled across a field on the Serbia-Hungary border. A Syrian man, carrying his child in his arms, tripped and fell to the ground.
“It made me so angry! I felt such repugnance for that journalist, and such compassion for the man with his child in his arms. So I started searching the Internet,” Galán says. “I found out the refugee was a soccer coach back home in Syria. And that’s the moment when I realized I might be able to help.”
Galán runs Cenafe Academy, the biggest soccer coaching school in Europe, headquartered in Getafe, south of Madrid.
“At the time, we were looking for an external relations rep — someone who could strengthen our ties with the Arab world, America and China,” says Galán.
So he contacted an Arabic translator to help and started working the phones — until he finally reached Osama Abdul Mohsen, who by then had arrived in Germany.
Would he like to move to Spain? Galán asked him.
Within days, Abdul Mohsen arrived in Madrid with two of his sons, ages 17 and 8 — and a new job at Cenafe Academy, which sponsored his work visa. The Spanish government has granted them asylum.
“I am very happy — very, very happy! Thank you,” Abdul Mohsen told reporters who’d gathered at Madrid’s Atocha train station in the middle of a September night to watch him arrive.