HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — A lower-level German soccer team called its punishment for stopping a game in protest after racist abuse was apparently directed at team captain Marcus Coffie “a slap in the face.”
Hamburg-based Teutonia Ottensen was leading 2-1 at Bremer SV in the fourth-division game on Saturday when Coffie, who is Black, said he was racially abused by an opposing player. Coffie’s teammates reacted by walking off the field and the game was abandoned before halftime.
The North German Soccer Federation said Monday it had no evidence that Coffie had been racially abused. It awarded Bremer SV a 5-0 victory. It also questioned “whether when such an accusation justifies calling off a game or not continuing it.”
Teutonia criticized the federation’s response on Tuesday.
“This judgement and the way it was written demonstrate a tolerant attitude towards the problem of racism underlying this incident,” Teutonia said in a statement.
Bremer SV said it believed its player, saying he didn’t racially abuse Coffie, and the alleged incident was not observed by the match officials, but Teutonia said the federation had 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. “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 5-0 result saves Bremer SV from relegation and sends Werder Bremen’s reserve team down instead. Teutonia had nothing but pride at stake in the game.
“The decision is not just an example of what is wrong in the sport, what is still wrong in our society,” Teutonia said, “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.”