Racism at fc union: discreet diplomacy in soccer

National player Nadiem Amiri was allegedly racially insulted by Union players. The clarification shattered against a wall of silence.

Nadiem Amiri at the game of Leverkusen against Union on January 15 Photo: dpa

In the end, no one could prove anything to anyone. It remained nebulous what words had fallen. "Evidence of a racially motivated or discriminatory act could not be provided," the DFB sports court announced on Thursday, and still decided on a match ban and fine "for unsportsmanlike conduct." A diplomacy decision that was most likely to satisfy Union Berlin.

It was an uncomfortable week for the men’s Bundesliga team from Kopenick. The previous Friday, at the 1:0 against Bayer Leverkusen, there had been one of the usual pack formations on the pitch. Union player Florian Hubner is said to have called Leverkusen’s Nadiem Amiri, a German international with an Afghan family history, a "shitty Afghan". At least that’s how Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah reported it, but he didn’t hear the words himself. And the microphones caught Union striker Cedric Teuchert shouting, "He’s still ranting, ey! We’re in Germany here, dude!"

Very impressively racist this. Nevertheless, the investigation against Teuchert was dropped, but at the same time – almost real satire – he was advised to pay better attention to his choice of words in the future. Hubner received a vague penalty for insult, because they probably didn’t want to do anything either. The case is interesting above all because it says a lot about how soccer works. Both players practiced diplomacy. Hubner apologized to Amiri in the dressing room, but nevertheless told the sports court that he had not made the insult that was reported. Later, he made a well-behaved anti-racism statement about the club. Meanwhile, Union taunted Bayer Leverkusen.

Amiri, on the other hand, couldn’t or wouldn’t remember exactly whether "fucking Afghan" had been used and considered the matter closed. The wall of silence was quickly raised again around the discreet industry. Parts of the public were all the louder for it, having taken a moralistic stance against Hubner. Yet he – if he did – and Teuchert only spoke out what is commonplace in every schoolyard, on every soccer field, in every cubicle every week. The tree top is no better than the root. Just more secretive. Anti-racist work with players, serious criticism of capitalism (not for nothing was it about "shitty Afghan", not "shitty Swede") and consistent pressure on the racist and sexist bashing mentality in soccer would help more than blanket judgments about personal attitudes of individuals. The DFB apparently wants to somehow quietly settle all this. That fails neatly, nothing is settled.

Amiri’s brother gave a hint of the world behind the facade in the social media

Amiri’s brother gave a hint of the world behind the facade in social media. To say "fucking Afghan" to his brother is the very last thing, Nauwid Amiri wrote. "My brother and I were born and raised here in Germany. We love the country and my brother is a proud German senior international […] and then you make my brother cry after the game. Do you think going to the dressing room to apologize is enough, and everything is forgotten with it?" Nadiem Amiri shared the story. And then removed it. No room in soccer for tears. And little for internal anti-racism.

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