Sometimes it is difficult to imagine that we live in the 21 century and moreover in an open society. It appears some haven’t made the step towards an era that is defined by the free movement of people and goods. For some it appeared this step is not just a step but leap forward; so much so that it is just too much for them.
Just a few days ago the head of the board of directors of Schalke 04, Clemens Tönnies, has caused an uproar among the fans of the club. Schalke are one of the most popular clubs in Germany and are proud of their working class heritage. The outrage came at an event in Paderborn during which Tönnies spoke. The topic of the event was responsibility of the entrepreneurs for German society. Indeed, this is an important point sadly though Tönnies’ speech will forever be remembered for a particular quote.
He said in order to tackle climate change it would be better to help African countries build up to 20 power stations a year which in return would prevent the deforestation of the continent and, moreover, stop them from making children after dark.
This statement alone discredits him from keeping his position at Schalke. Football as the most important and most popular sport in Germany has a special role within society and it’s time that this mindset also takes hold within the board rooms of Germany’s top clubs.
So far the club have not reacted appropriately as Tönnies has been suspended for three months and will return in November. This is not the right decision. This person cannot be accepted as one of the leading figures behind one of Germany’s biggest clubs. Not only has Tönnies discredited himself with this remark, as the owner of one of the biggest meat producers, his daily work is one of the biggest challenges of our time: to reduce emissions as much as possible. Finally, it is said that the employees os his factories have to endure horrible housing conditions.
This and his remarks have more than demonstrated what really matters for him: money and the limelight provided by football. It’s time football and society took a stand to stop this and make it clear to everyone that this is just not acceptable.
Update: 30. August 2019
It is official: The DFB have lost their sense and any respect they may have previously held. The ethics commission has decided that Clemens Tönnies will not face charges for his racist slur in early August. Instead the commission issued a statement which says that they believe Tönnies to be overwhelmed by the response his remarks provoked. In their view the director of Schalke 04 has shown remorse and therefore cannot be labelled a racist.
This is a slap in the face of any decent football fan! The board of the club have already disgraced themselves by only suspending Tönnies until November. Now the DFB followed suit and made it clear that they live in cloud cookoo land when it comes to call out racism for what it is: racism.