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FOOTBALL

German footballers probed after calling for racial justice in US during matches

FIFA has called on leagues to use "common sense" when deciding whether to discipline footballers for displaying political messages after several players in the German Bundesliga called for justice for George Floyd during matches.

German footballers probed after calling for racial justice in US during matches
Jadon Sancho on Sunday with a T-shirt "Justice for George Floyd". Photo: DPA

“FIFA fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the George Floyd case,” world football's governing body said in a statement on Tuesday.

After scoring in his team's win at Paderborn on Sunday, Borussia Dortmund's English winger Jadon Sancho lifted his shirt to reveal the message “Justice for George Floyd”.

His team-mate Achraf Hakimi and Schalke's American midfielder Weston McKennie expressed similar calls for justice, while Borussia Mönchengladbach's French forward Marcus Thuram took a knee after scoring for his team in memory of Floyd.

Floyd died last week after a white policeman in Minneapolis kneeled on the handcuffed man's neck for several minutes. The incident has sparked days of violent protests across the United States.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the sport's lawmakers, bans players from showing “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images”.

However, pointing to its own anti-racism campaigns, FIFA intimated that no action should necessarily be taken against Sancho, Hakimi or McKennie.

“The application of the laws of the game approved by the IFAB is left for the competitions organisers which should use common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events,” FIFA said.

The German Football Association (DFB) is investigating the players in line with IFAB's laws, although president Fritz Keller said he understood their actions.

“If people are discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, it is unbearable,” said Keller.

“If they die as a result of the colour of their skin, then I am deeply disturbed. The victims of racism need all of our solidarity.”

Sancho was booked after revealing the message to mark scoring against Paderborn, although the DFB has said the yellow card was actually because he lifted his shirt over his head.

“This is defined under rule number 12 as behaviour that is clearly against the rules and should be seen as independent of any political message,” said Lutz Michael Fröhlich, head of the elite referees unit of the DFB.

“For referees it is not possible to make a judgement during a match about political, religious or personal slogans, messages or pictures,” Fröhlich added.

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RACISM

Black people in Germany face ‘widespread’ racism, survey finds

In the Afrocensus, a first-of-its-kind survey charting the lived experiences of black people in Germany, the vast majority revealed they experienced 'extensive' discrimination in almost all aspects of public life.

Dr Karamba Diaby
Dr Karamba Diaby, an SPD politician and anti-racism advocate, carries out voluntary work in his constituency of Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

“The results of the Afrocensus indicate that anti-Black racism is widespread in Germany and anchored in institutions,” the authors of the new report said in a press release on Tuesday. “There is no area of life in which discrimination and racism are not extensive problems.”

Though the overwhelming majority of respondents said they had experienced discrimination at least ‘sometimes’ in almost all areas of life, housing was the area where they said they were discriminated against most often.

Just two percent of respondents to the Afrocensus said they had ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ experienced racism in the housing market, compared to more than 90 percent who said they had experienced it ‘often’ or ‘very often’.

READ ALSO: ‘Black lives need to matter in Germany’ New project to uncover racism in everyday life

Experiences with police and security personnel also counted among areas of life where racism was particularly prevalent: 88 percent of respondents had experienced discrimination from security staff ‘often’ or ‘very often’, while around 85 percent had had the same experience with police.

More than 85 percent had also experienced racism in their education or in the workplace ‘often’ or ‘very often’ in Germany. One in seven had lost their job during the Covid crisis. 

According to the report, 90 percent of respondents had also experienced having their hair grabbed, while more than half (56 percent) had been stopped by the police or asked for drugs by strangers.

Meanwhile, 80 percent said people had made comments about the colour of their skin or sexualised comments about their race on dating apps. A vast majority – 90 percent – also revealed they hadn’t been believed when they’d spoken out about racism in the past, or that people had said they were “too sensitive”. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: My experiences of everyday racism in Germany

In spite of widespread discrimination, almost half (47 percent) of the respondents were engaged and active in their community – mostly carrying out some form of social or voluntary work.

First of its kind

Based on wide-ranging data, the findings paint a vivid and concerning picture of what life is like for the one million or so black people living in Germany today.

To produce the report, researchers from Berlin-based Black community group Each One Teach One and Citizens for Europe conducted an extended survey of 6,000 black people from the Africans and Afrodiasporic community to try and discover more about on the everyday lives and experiences of this group. The survey was carried out between July and September 2020. 

It represents one of the first attempts to gather a wealth of quantitative data on this subject, and as such offers some of the first truly scientific insights into anti-Black racism in modern Germany.

“With the Afrocensus, we have succeeded in doing exactly what has long been demanded within the black community for a long time: making the realities of our lives visible within the framework of qualitative, but above all quantitative research,” Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana und Dr. Karamba Diaby wrote in a foreword to the report. 

Diaby, a high-profile politician within the centre-left SPD party, was one of only two Afro-German politicians in parliament when he first took his seat in 2013. He has since become known for promoting political engagement and empowerment within the migrant and black community. 

In January 2020, an unknown gunman fired shots through the window of his constituency office in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, in a suspected racially motivated attack. 

READ ALSO: How people with migrant backgrounds remain underrepresented in German politics

Since the Second World War, Germany has avoided gathering data that allows people to be traced by ethnicity as a means of protecting persecuted groups.

However, critics say this approach only works to make the issues faced by these groups invisible. 

Writing on Twitter, Daniel Gyamerah, Division Lead at Citizens For Europe, called for an “action plan for tackling anti-Black racism and for empowering black, African and Afrodiasporic people” and the establishment of advice centres for people facing racism and discrimination.

More research into the intersectional experience of black people in Germany is needed, he added. 

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