German Football Faces Racial Reckoning Ahead of Euro 2024

A recent survey on racism in German football has ignited a heated debate as the country prepares to host the Euro 2024 Championship.

Conducted by public broadcaster ARD, the representative poll revealed that 21% of Germans prefer to see more white players on the national team. Additionally, nearly 17% expressed regret that the current team captain has Turkish roots.

Ronny Blaschke, a noted expert on German football, commented that the survey results were expected, highlighting the longstanding issue of racism in the sport. He noted that racism in football has persisted for decades, exacerbated by the rise of the far-right AfD party.

“This result does not surprise me,” Blaschke told Anadolu in an exclusive interview. “Racism has been a part of German football history, especially in the 80s and 90s when we saw violent, brutal racism and Nazi fans in the stands.”

Despite campaigns by the German football federation and civil society groups, racism among fans and incidents in stadiums continue. Blaschke pointed out that fan groups often provoke each other using racist stereotypes.

According to a survey by the football app FanQ, racism has become an everyday reality for many players in Germany. Over half of the 2,000 respondents felt that racism is prevalent in both amateur (51%) and professional football (58%).

Blaschke emphasized that racist insults against Black players are just the surface, with deeper structural racism affecting migrants in their education and careers, including football.

“I’ve heard from many young Black and Turkish footballers who were pigeonholed as athletes, not seen as potential directors, lawyers, or managers,” Blaschke said. He also criticized the lack of diversity in leadership positions within the German Football Federation and League.

Germany’s national team currently includes nine players with migration backgrounds, such as captain Ilkay Gundogan, defenders Jonathan Tah and Waldemar Anton, midfielder Jamal Musiala, and striker Deniz Undav.

As Germany prepares to host the UEFA Euro 2024 Championship from June 14 to July 14, starting with a match against Scotland in Munich and concluding with the final in Berlin, the nation grapples with addressing racism in football.–News Desk