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FOOTBALL

MPs exclude far-right lawmaker from Bundestag football team over hooligan past

Germany's parliamentary football team said Thursday it excluded an AfD MP because of a hooliganism conviction, the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the far-right party.

MPs exclude far-right lawmaker from Bundestag football team over hooligan past
Sebastian Münzenmaier. Photo: DPA

The captain of FC Bundestag, Marcus Weinberg, said the AfD's Sebastian Münzenmaier could not be part of the squad because he had been convicted last year and handed a suspended sentence of six months for hooligan violence.

“It's a question of openness to the world, of fair play and tolerance,” Weinberg, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party, told AFP's sports subsidiary SID.

But Münzenmaier has protested against the decision, claiming he is a victim of political ostracism by mainstream parties.

“Another good example of the so-called tolerance of the old parties, without discussion or justification, they prefer to take a shower among themselves and refuse to play football with everyone,” complained the 28-year-old.

Weinberg argued however that his team did not exclude AfD lawmakers because of their politics.

“Before the start of every legislative period, we write to all the parties to ask if the MPs would be interested to come join the team. That's what we did with the AfD,” he said.

The squad took on three players from the far-right party.

FC Bundestag regularly organises matches for humanitarian causes, including an upcoming game against a team of refugees.

Münzenmaier was sentenced last year by a court for having participated in clashes in 2012 between fans of Mainz and FC Kaiserslautern, the team he supports. His appeal is pending.

Capitalising on the public's misgivings over the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers since 2015, the AfD won more than 90 seats during September's elections, triggering a political earthquake in Germany.

Its arrival in the Bundestag has left mainstream parties scrambling on how to deal with its lawmakers – from where they should sit in parliament to which among them should be among vice-chairs at the Bundestag.

UKRAINE

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, after the trio travelled overnight by train from Poland.

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

The three leaders left in the early hours of Thursday, arriving into Kyiv on Thursday morning. After a visit to the heavily-bombed town of Irpin, they met Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is the first time that the leaders of the three European Union countries have visited Kyiv since Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine, and the visit comes as Kyiv is pushing for membership of the EU.

Macron has been paying a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There had been widespread speculation in France that he would combine the trip with a visit to Zelensky in Ukraine, but this was not confirmed until Thursday morning.

In a joint press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Macron reiterated his desire that Ukraine should win the war, but added that eventually negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be necessary.

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