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Göring-Eckardt embarrassed herself with the “White Players” post (Opinion)

Göring-Eckardt embarrassed herself with the “White Players” post (Opinion)
Göring-Eckardt embarrassed herself with the “White Players” post (Opinion)

The national team enchants Germany. Katrin Göring-Eckardt wanted to take advantage of this. But it turned into an embarrassment – and not just for herself.

Football is unpredictable. It is all the better that the greats of the sport have taught us a few laws: The ball is round (World Champion coach Sepp Herberger). The game lasts 90 minutes (also Herberger). And in the end the Germans always win (England legend Gary Lineker).

The European Championship seems to be creating another law: when German politicians instrumentalize football for their own ends, it becomes embarrassing.

Germany was leading 1-0 against Hungary when Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Greens) spoke out on Platform X: “This team is really great. Just imagine if there were only white German players.”

An expected shitstorm for Göring-Eckardt

The shitstorm that followed was almost predictable, reminiscent of a penalty shootout loss by the English. Göring-Eckardt was immediately accused of “racism against whites” from the right. With her tweet, she implied that players without a recognizable migrant background could not play well, they said. But the Green politician’s comment was not well received in the left-wing camp either. They resented her for even making skin color an issue.

Of all people, Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP), who is Göring-Eckardt’s direct colleague as Vice President of the Bundestag, did not want to let the template go unused. “I find it really worrying when people in Germany are judged by the colour of their skin,” he wrote on X.

Shortly before, he himself had tried to make political capital out of the European Championship. “The VIP area is firmly in the hands of the Social Democrats. I’ll take a more down-to-earth approach, colleague Lauterbach,” he said on the short message service against Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD), who in turn was in the spotlight in the stadium in Stuttgart next to Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (both also SPD). Kubicki also posted a selfie of himself watching football in a simple garden tent with a glass of beer. The liberal, a man of the people, that was the message.

German politicians and football – in the past, things often went well. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visits to the dressing room after major victories by the DFB team were cult. Her predecessor Gerhard Schröder travelled to the World Cup final in Yokohama in the middle of the 2002 federal election campaign. The Germans lost the game, but Schröder won the election. This may not have been solely due to the World Cup, but also because Schröder often seemed authentic in his politics. And also in his passion for football.

Projection surface for right-wing radicals

Unlike Göring-Eckardt and Kubicki, Merkel and Schröder did not make their attempts to gain a profile ideologically. But since the farce surrounding the “One Love” armband at the 2022 World Cup, the national team has been repeatedly drawn into political trench warfare. With the colorful captain’s armband, the national team wanted to send a signal against homophobia. But FIFA banned it from being worn – out of consideration for host country Qatar.

Right-wing radicals in particular are abusing them as a projection surface. AfD European politician Maximilian Krah recently insulted the national players in a TikTok video as a “politically correct mercenary troop” who “do not want to be a national team”.

The "One Love" captain

In addition, the traffic light coalition is more unpopular than ever. In this situation, Göring-Eckardt thought it made sense to take a stand herself. Of course, this was primarily a message to her own camp. But it was not only a mistake, it was also unnecessary. Anyone who has not yet understood that non-white national players are just as natural as white ones will never learn. And certainly not from a Green politician.

Katrin Göring-Eckardt could have saved herself the comment. Also because national coach Julian Nagelsmann and vice-captain Joshua Kimmich had long since clearly positioned themselves against racism. And as Jonathan Tah recently said so beautifully: “We are Müller, but we are also Tah and Gündoğan.” All of this shows that the German national team does not need politicians to talk about them. And the Germans do not need anyone to explain the national team to them either.

Because it explains itself long ago.

Source: Stern

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