Frankfurt: The right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party found itself under fire yesterday after a leading member made racist remarks about national football team defender Jerome Boateng, forcing its leader to issue an apology.
The uproar was started by AfD's deputy chief Alexander Gauland, who told the Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that Germans would not like to have Boateng, who has a Ghanaian father and was born and brought up in Berlin, as a neighbour.
"People find him good as a footballer, but they don't want to have a Boateng as a neighbour," Gauland said. The comments drew immediate and widespread condemnation. But AfD party chief Frauke Petry tried to placate the storm, telling the mass-circulation daily Bild that Gauland "cannot recall whether he made that statement."
"Independent of that, I apologise to Mr Boateng for the impression that arose," she said. And Petry subsequently tweeted: "Jerome Boateng is a super footballer who is rightly a member of the German national team. I'm looking forward to the European championships."
Nevertheless, Gauland's comments were widely condemned. The president of the DFB German football league, Reinhard Grindel, slammed them as "simply tasteless".