NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News  » Sports » German Boateng gets support after being targeted by anti-migrant party

German Boateng gets support after being targeted by anti-migrant party

May 30, 2016 07:47 IST

Germany's main anti-immigrant party triggered outrage on Sunday when its vice-chairman said people would not want German black soccer star Jerome Boateng as their neighbour.

Jerome BoatengBayern Munich defender Boateng, born in Berlin to a Ghanaian father and German mother, is a stalwart of Germany's national soccer team and is likely to play for his country in next month's European Championship in France.

"People find him good as a football player but they don't want a Boateng as their neighbour," Alexander Gauland, vice chair of Alternative for Germany (AfD) told the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

Gauland later said he was simply relaying the opinion of some people and not expressing his own view.

The remarks had triggered fury on social media and criticism from across the German political spectrum.

Some supporters in the Augsburg stadium where Germany played Slovakia on Sunday night displayed banners supporting the 27-year old, with one saying: "Jerome, move in next to us!"

Boateng, who picked up his 58th cap on Sunday and helped Germany win the World Cup in 2014, told German TV channel ARD after the match: "I can only smile about it.

"It's sad that something like this can still happen today. I believe there were enough positive answers today in the stadium. I saw some banners."

Midfielder Sami Khedira, who captained Germany on Sunday and has a Tunisian father, described Gauland's words as "outrageous".

Before the match, hundreds expressed their solidarity with Boateng on micro-blogging site Twitter.

"If you want to win titles for Germany, you need neighbours like him," tweeted Boateng's fellow German international player Benedikt Howedes.

Using a Twitter tag that translates as 'my neighbour Boateng', user Andreas Mayer tweeted: "There's a free flat in our building, but not for Mr Gauland."

AfD party co-chairwoman Frauke Petry apologised to the player in comments to the Bild newspaper.

In comments emailed to Reuters AfD co-chair Joerg Meuthen said he would be happy if Boateng were to move to his neighbourhood.

Germany's interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said every German should be happy to have Boateng as a fellow citizen, teammate or neighbour.

The AfD has seen its support surge amid disenchantment with Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy towards refugees fleeing conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and beyond. More than one million migrants arrived in Germany last year.

Last week supporters of German anti-Islam group Pegida criticised a confectioner's decision to print images of non-white soccer players on its chocolate bars instead of the usual picture of a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy.

Germany's national team includes several other players of mixed ethnic background including third-generation Turkish-German winger Mesut Özil.

Image: Jerome Boateng

Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

© Copyright 2019 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.