Footballers respond to racist attack with blackface photo

Footballers respond to racist attack with blackface photo
Photo: Deinster SV
Wednesday was a strange day on the Facebook page of Deinster SV, the sporting club from a small town west of Hamburg in Lower Saxony.

“Our friend and teammate Emad was insulted and struck for racist reasons on Saturday,” a new post read.

“This is just sad! Violence against refugees is pathetic… Emad and Amar, you are one of us just like everyone else and we're glad you're here.”

While it was a sad tale, there was little to distinguish the message from similar missives posted on the social network.

But it was the picture, showing the entire team with their faces blackened using an image editing programme, that has ensured the post was quickly shared around Germany.

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Unser Freund und Mitspieler Emad wurde am Samstag, aus rassistischen Gründen, beschimpft und geschlagen. Das ist einfach…

Posted by Deinster SV on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Emad and Amar, two Sudanese refugees on the team, reported to their coach Sönke Kreibich on Saturday that they had been struck and insulted during the town's annual Easter party.

“I said they should stay close to us in the team… they said they wouldn't get into a fight under any circumstances, in the end they'd experienced enough violence in Sudan,” Kreibich told

But as the pair of refugees made their way home together after the party, they encountered the same attackers again, lying in wait.

“Emad was thrown to the ground, they struck and kicked him. When I saw him on Sunday he had a big swelling under his eye,” Kreibich said.

That's when the idea for the edited picture came up.

“We were shocked and asked ourselves how to react. We wanted to send a signal internally as well as externally that Emad and Amar are a fixed part of our team… and we wanted to show Amar and Emad themselves that we stood by them,” the coach explained.

“Their German is getting better every day, but it doesn't always suffice to pick up emotional nuance. That's why we chose the symbolic action with the picture.”

Kreibich told jetzt that both refugees would be presented with a large printed copy of the photo.

So far there has been no criticism of the football team for using blackface – which has more traditionally been used to make fun of black people – in their protest.

Germany has a history with the phenomenon, as young children are regularly made up in blackface when representing the Three Wise Men in Epiphany celebrations – often prompting protests.