German football has structural racism problem, expert says

German football has structural racism problem, expert says
German football has structural racism problem, expert says

Africa-Press – Lesotho. – Racist insults against Black footballers only ‘tip of the iceberg,’ racist stereotypes against migrants more widespread than what can be observed
– Majority of management positions in sports are still held by white people, Ronny Blaschke tells Anadolu

A new survey on German football and racism has sparked an intense debate in the country ahead of the Euro 2024 Championship.

In a representative poll by public broadcaster ARD, 21% of Germans said they prefer to see more players with white skin on the national football team.

Nearly 17% said they regret that the national team’s current captain is a player with Turkish roots.

Ronny Blaschke, a renowned expert on German football, said the outcome of the survey was not surprising, as racism in football has long been a serious problem, and was further exacerbated by the rise of the anti-immigrant far-right AfD party.

“This result does not really surprise me, because I researched for almost 20 years, and we do have open racism in football for decades,” Blaschke said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu.

“We had a very, very violent, brutal racism in the in the 80s, in the 90s, when players were attacked, and we had Nazi fans in the stands, so racism is a part of German football history,” he said.

Despite various campaigns by the German football federation and civil society organizations in recent years, racism among fans, and racist incidents in stadiums have not disappeared, Blaschke noted.

“There are always fan groups battling each other, they want to provoke each other, their teams. There is a thinking of ‘this is your enemy’. And sometimes people use racist stereotypes to provoke their fan groups, and this is another problem,” he added.

Racism has become everyday reality

According to a survey by football app FanQ, racism has become an everyday reality in recent years for many amateur and professional players in Germany.

Among some 2,000 respondents, more than half of them stated that they feel racism is very present in both amateur (51%) and professional football (58%).

Football expert Ronny Blaschke said racist insults against Black footballers were only the ‘tip of the iceberg,’ and racist stereotypes against migrants were more widespread than what can be observed.

He pointed out that migrants were often disadvantaged during their education and work careers due to structural racism, and this has also been the case for migrant football players during their professional careers.

“I heard from so many Black or Turkish youngsters football players, that they were seen as athletes, (they were told) you can go to football, if you don’t get the exam in school it doesn’t matter. But why are these people not seen as (future) directors, or lawyers, or successful managers?” Blaschke said.

“Why is the board of the German Football Federation or the German Football League almost completely white? Because the decision makers, they are recruiting people that are similar to them,” he continued.

“We have a team captain now with Turkish roots, but we don’t have any Black coaches, we don’t have any referees, any managers any sports journalists that have an international biography. So the pitch is diverse, but the leading positions are not, and this is another structural problem,” he stressed.

Germany’s current national team has nine players with migration backgrounds, including captain Ilkay Gundogan, defenders Jonathan Tah and Waldemar Anton, midfielder Jamal Musiala, and striker Deniz Undav.

The country will host Europe’s biggest football tournament, the UEFA Euro 2024 Championship, in June and July. The tournament will kick off in Munich with Germany’s game against Scotland on June 14. The final will be held at Berlin’s Olympiastadion on July 14.

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