this has been the month ⋆ An Old International

this has been the month

It has been a black month, this February 2020 just past. Several incidences have severely dashed any hope of a dialogue between the fans and the DFB. That is almost considered a lesser evil, considering the outbreak of racism and vicious attacks.

This has been the month during which a player has been racially abused and has been sent off for reacting to it. The referee has been informed but did not react. The protocol demands that the match officials must recognise racist or abusive chants and noises themselves before they can act.

This has been the month in which an academic argues that a professional football player should be able to handle racist abuse. He stated that the club in question, Hertha, has not educated the young players the right way, i.e. to handle such a situation like a man and laugh it off but to react emotionally. This statement highlights just how deep racism and misanthropic ideas have taken root within football and more worryingly, within academia.

The academic in question, Stefan Chatrath, has since backpadelled and issued a statement saying that his arguments contain words and phrases that he wold not use again. He added that his father migrated to Germany from India. We have been here before: I was misunderstood and/or misinterpreted and never was it my intention to hurt anyone. I am profoundly sorry. This is nonsense, of course. He has stated it in the first place and there must have been editorial guidelines. All failed.

This has been the month during which the AfD helped to elect a prime minister in Thuringia and the political establishment has been demasked for what they are: hungry for power. Though the federal country seems to be in a state of limbo, the fact that the AfD wields so much power as to be able to crown a prime minister is a troubling sign.

This has been the month during which a racist attack in Hanau saw nine people killed because they did not fit the image of a homogenuous society of the assassin. It is no longer possible to denounce this as an act of an isolated loner; the racist and neo-fascist elements of society have been left untroubled for too long. Indeed, they have been nurtured and courted by the mainstream parties and media.

This has been the month in which a candidate for Germany’s chancellorship said that the best way to tackle right wing radicalism would be fight migrant clans and deporting refugees and migrants quicker than before.

This has been the month during which fans of RB Leipzig unfurled a banner claiming peace and togetherness while at the same time the club’s security evicted ten visitors from Japan because of fears of a possible infection with Covid-19.

This has been the month during which a referee interrupted a game of football because the billionaire sponsoring the home team has been called a son of a bitch by sections of the away fans. The billionaire in question has a troubled relationship with fans. In 2012 he advised the sound engineers to manipulate the PA system in their arena so that fans of the away team (Borussia Dortmund) were subjected to a brutally loud noise that caused physical damage to the ears. That there was a reaction is clear and over the years, fans of Dortmund have made it clear what they thought and think about Dietmar Hopp and his club. This culminated in a two year ban issued by the DFB for Dortmund fans to travel to Hoffenheim to support their team. Two years ago, the DFB made it clear that collective punishment will not be issued.

This has been the month during which the DFB made it clear whose side they are on. Spoiler: it’s not the fans. Its president hailed the referee of said match above (for purely information reasons: it was the game between Hoffenheim and Bayern, 28 February 2020) as acting responsibly because a line has been crossed. He failed to criticise other referees who did NOT stop a game during which a player has been abused racially. See above. The DFB has not issued a statement about the mysogynist views aired at football grounds by spectators, about the sexist abuse female players, coaches and referees have to endure before, during and after matches. Yet, he deemed it important that a billionaire whose views on fans is not particularly positive to say the least, needs to be protected. Moreover, the president, Fritz Keller has been given one of the biggest stages in German media to talk about sport and he uses it to his best effect.

To call someone who has made billions by creating and developing a successful business software a son of a bitch is tough. Yet, as an octogenerian, Dietmar Hopp should really be cool about it and count his blessings. Instead, he has the balls to claim such attacks as being almost racist in their nature. This denounces the victims of the attack in Hanau. Moreover, it have been the fans who in their own time have worked tirelessly against racism. In particular Bayern Munich have been reminded by their fans that the club’s history is not free of stains. Football fans across the board in Germany have worked for decades to highlight grievances and problems not just for male fan groups.

On the other side, fans and ultras should not only blame one single person for the state of football today. Hopp is just a symptom of a malaise; the causes are to be found within the DFB. It is the organisation that has allowed the developments to happen over the last years, such as RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim but also previous instances like Leverkusen and Wolfsburg.

This has been the month during which lines have been crossed and points reached where it has become more than ever necessary to have a debate as a society about values. If it is in the interest of some to protect some of their own (DFB and Hopp) than those must face the criticism that follows automatically. If we as society cannot protect the weakest, we have failed.

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