Mainz gets support after member quits with racist comments

Sports

Mainz’s Pierre Kunde Malong kneels as he celebrates scoring his side’s 2nd goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Eintracht and Mainz, in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, June 6, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (Alexander Hassenstein/Pool Photo via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Bundesliga club Mainz has received widespread support from fans and new members have joined since a former member quit with racist comments about the team last week.

On June 8, the club published part of a resignation note it received from the club member, saying it wasn’t concerned with every termination but “sometimes we’re even relieved.”

The person named some past and present white Mainz players, praising their values, but said “dark-skinned players” were preventing “German talents” from getting their chance.

“We had to make clear that we won’t tolerate racist attitudes of statements,” the club said in a statement on its website Friday. “It’s written in the club statutes and is part of our mission statement.

“Above all, we owe this to all people who suffer from racism, to our black players and ourselves, regardless of sporting success.”

Mainz said it could not let the racist comments slide without comment and that many fans supported the club’s stance.

It said that 14 new members joined the club to show their support, and that four other people donated the annual fee to cover the loss of income from the former fan’s cancellation. One of the donations came from England.

“Support on social media has been widespread. Our own players like Moussa Niakhaté and Robin Quaison or former player Anthony Ujah thanked the club for its statement. There was also support for example from TV host Joko Winterscheidt,” Mainz said.

The former Mainz fan complained about the number of “dark-skinned” players in the team and said, “I have not been able to identify with this (professional soccer) club for months. Sometimes I get the impression that I am at the Africa Cup rather than the German Bundesliga. I know what’s coming, but no, I’m not in any way racist — I forbid that. But too much is too much.”

The club said it also received negative feedback for publishing the former fan’s statements, but that it was important to show that a club that has worked on strengthening tolerant attitudes for years can be confronted by racist overtures.

“We will not be silent in future either!” the club said.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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