A German soccer team has condemned the punishment it received for stopping a game in protest of racist abuse aimed at its Black team captain.
On Saturday (May 27), Hamburg-based Teutonia Ottensen was leading 2-1 against Bremer SV when team captain Marcus Coffie said he was racially abused by an opposing player, the Associated Press reports. His Teutonia teammates walked off the field in protest of the racist abuse, bringing the game to a halt before halftime.
The North German Soccer Federation said Monday (May 29) that there was no evidence of abuse and awarded Bremer SV a 5-0 victory. In its response, the federation also questioned “whether when such an accusation justifies calling off a game or not continuing it.”
Teutonia condemned the punishment in a statement on Tuesday (May 30)
“This judgement and the way it was written demonstrate a tolerant attitude towards the problem of racism underlying this incident,” Teutonia said.
Bremer SV defended its player, who claimed he didn’t racially abuse Coffie. Though the alleged incident wasn't caught by match officials, Teutonia said the federation disregarded testimony from other witnesses.
“It signals to all players who are confronted with racist insults on the soccer field that their options for dealing with the problem are limited to what the refereeing team can see,” Teutonia said in a statement. “The questioning of whether an incident of this type is enough for a game to be abandoned not only borders on ignorance, but it also makes all the steps taken against racism so far look like measures that are only welcomed if they fit the prevailing circumstances of the club or association.”
“The decision is not just an example of what is wrong in the sport, what is still wrong in our society,” Teutonia added, “but it’s the latest example of looking the other way, the latest example of a decision to tolerate racism in the sport and therefore in society.”