Bundesliga club Mainz announced Tuesday in no uncertain terms that it is fine with losing any fans who object to the racial makeup of the club’s players.
The club published a message it had received from a disgruntled fan who said they were canceling their membership with the team after it fielded nine black players in its starting lineup.
With protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd even reaching the Bundesliga, Mainz decided to make its response public. The club called the message “an unacceptable notice of cancellation.”
“For several months now I have been unable to identify myself with this club (professional football)! I’ve since gotten the impression that I’m at the Africa Cup, instead of in the German Bundesliga. I know what’s coming, but no – I’m not racist in any way. I resent that. But, too much is enough.
But when the starting line-up for the past weeks has featured nine (!!!) Black players and German talents are being given fewer and fewer chances of their own, then this is no longer the club that has been near and dear to my heart over all these years. (…) Noveski, Bungert, Rose, Babatz, Weiland, Bell and many others stood for values and mentality. Those were players who gave their blood, sweat and tears (…)”
You don’t often see someone lay it out that plainly, that even the rostering of a certain number of black players is a problem to them.
Mainz said it sent the following response back to the fan:
While we usually regret to hear of anyone wanting to cancel their membership and fight passionately for each of our members, in this instance we cannot begin to express any regret.
Racism is born when racist thoughts are spread, not only when someone calls themselves a racist – something which rarely happens. And yes, you are right: you cannot identify yourself with our club. For us, skin colour or any other characteristics simply do not play a role. All that matters to us, is that someone is human and that they share in our values. Those are the kinds of people we welcome in our community. In light of this, we welcome your cancellation as the reasons you’ve given clearly prove that you do not share those values that our club is based on. Our position is clearly defined in our statutes and in our mission statement, which was developed in partnership with our fans and members.
After going through its statutes, mission statement and backing of the players the fan complained about, Mainz ended its reply with this:
For us, they are simply great people, for us they are simply our boys from Mainz. Bearing this in mind, it’s particularly deceitful of you to see an opportunity to explicitly blame the skin colour of our players for our patch of bad form. Choosing to share these views at this time, where people around the world are standing up against discrimination and showing solidarity following the death of George Floyd – including several athletes and Bundesliga players – goes to prove that these unacceptable values are deeply ingrained in your character.
Unlike you, we understand unreservedly that “Black Lives Matter”.
By sending out that response, the club seems more than fine with losing fans who agree with its now ex-fan.
Not many teams on the American side of the Atlantic Ocean have gone as far as saying “Black Lives Matter,” though the NFL did so after a push from many of its black stars. Just three of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams included the words in its response to Floyd’s death.
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