Germany international Jerome Boateng has told DerWesten that racism in the country is “far from gone” but thanked chancellor Angela Merkel for her condemnation of politician Alexander Gauland’s recent remarks.
Gauland, of Germany’s right-wing Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party, said in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung on Sunday that he would “not want to have Boateng as a neighbour.”
The statement, made during a background talk last week, drew widespread condemnation in Germany. Reinhard Rauball, the president of the German Football League (DFL), called them “unjustifiable,” and a spokesperson for chancellor Merkel said they were “vile” and “sad.”
Boateng welcomed Merkel’s response, saying: “That pleased me, especially since she said it in no uncertain terms what, I believe, is important, not only for me but also for the country.”
Three years ago, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Jerome’s half-brother, led AC Milan off the pitch in protest of racist abuse, forcing a friendly at Italian fourth-division side Pro Patria to be abandoned.
The former Ghana midfielder was later invited to the United Nations, where he said racism remained a serious problem and added: “It’s a dangerous and infectious virus which is strengthened by indifference and inaction.”
Bayern Munich defender Boateng told DerWesten: “I also don’t want to ignore it, but I don’t want to give those people too much attention and a platform, and I also don’t want to get too much attention compared to my teammates.
“We have several other players who have their roots in other countries. I see myself attacked in place of the others.”
Boateng, who captained the national team during the second half of Sunday’s friendly match against Slovakia, acknowledged that much has been done to tackle racism in Germany but added: “It’s far from gone — the current example shows it.
“It’s sad that we fall back into stuff like that. I hoped we were past it.”