Berlin, Germany: German chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman on Monday condemned ‘vile’ comments made by a right-wing politician that most Germans would not want World Cup winning footballer Jerome Boateng as their neighbour.
‘This sentence, which has come out, is vile and sad,’ Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in the government press briefing in Berlin.
‘Jerome Boateng summed it up when he said it’s sad that such things still occur.’
Seibert was reacting after Alexander Gauland, the deputy leader of right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD), told a national Sunday newspaper: ‘people find him good, but they don’t want to have a Boateng as a neighbour’.
Boateng himself admitted he was saddened that Gauland had made such comments in this day and age.
‘I can only smile about it. In all honesty, it’s sad like something like that is said these days,’ said Boateng, who was born in Berlin to a German mother and a Ghanaian father, after Germany’s 3-1 friendly defeat to Slovakia in Augsburg on Sunday.
‘I am happy to be a German, I’m proud or I wouldn’t be here in the team.
‘I believe I am well integrated and there is nothing more I need to say.
‘I think enough people have said something about it.’
Germany fans in Augsburg made their feelings known about Gauland’s comments with banners around the stadium reading: ‘Jerome, move in next to us’ or ‘Jerome, be our neighbour’, which the Bayern Munich star spotted.
‘I think there were enough positive answers in the stadium. I saw a few placards,’ said Boateng, who was a key part of Germany’s World Cup winning squad.
There was plenty of support for Boateng from amongst the German FA (DFB).
Reinhard Grindel, president of the world champions, condemning Gauland’s comments as ‘simply tasteless’, while the German team released a video under the motto ‘We are Diverse’ showing the players’ faces in unison.
‘We are a very diverse team,’ said team manager Oliver Bierhoff with many of the Germany squad coming from different ethnic groups.
‘Such unqualified statements are therefore dismissed as what they are.
‘It doesn’t bother Jerome, but it’s not pretty, because he is drawn into a discussion he doesn’t want to join.
‘It’s also stupid that his family will be burdened, because there will be questions about their neighbourhood and these are all things one doesn’t want in their private life.’