Leon Goretzka used the argument that footballers “are foreign ministers in shorts” to criticise the far-right Alternative for Germany.
The Bayern midfielder said it was “an embarrassment” for the country and said it was supported “by people who deny the coronavirus and relativise the Holocaust”.
It is becoming increasingly common to see footballers openly expressing themselves on political issues. The latest to do so was Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka, who attacked German right-wing extremists in the newspaper ‘Welt am Sonntag’.
In particular, Goretzka referred to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, after it achieved good results in the country’s last local elections. The footballer has spoken on more than one occasion against the organisation and its militant supporters.
“At the time, I criticized AfD because its contradictions were obvious. It is a party supported by people who deny the coronavirus and who relativise the Holocaust,” condemned Goretzka, who claimed that Germany lives “in a democracy that nothing and nobody can break that”.
His reason for speaking openly is that as a footballer, he has the scope to set an example. “We players are foreign ministers in shorts”, he said, quoting a phrase from Fritz Walter, a German national team historian.
“We must take advantage of the attention we draw to make these issues known and to fight them publicly,” added Gortezka, who insisted: “I am not a politician, I am a normal citizen who cares about the world around him”.
He also recalled meeting Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer, 99. That day, this woman told him how she lived in the Theresiendstadt concentration camp.
“Talking to a Holocaust survivor was an experience that left me cold. She even brought with her the Star of David. She told me that it is up to our generation that what happened then will never happen again and that is why she fights every day,” she said.