The former German goalkeeper has apologized for his actions since the story came into the public eye but it could not save his job.
Ex-Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is no longer on the supervisory board of German football club Hertha Berlin. This comes after personal chats revealed a racially insensitive comment towards German television pundit Dennis Aogo. Lehmann referred to Aogo as “a token black guy” in a WhatsApp text message. The former German goalkeeper has apologized for his actions since the story came into the public eye. However, the incident has, yet again, urged footballing organizations to do more to curb racism. Only recently, several football clubs and associations observed a 72-hour social media boycott to tackle online racial abuse.
“In a private message from my mobile phone to Dennis Aogo, an impression was created for which I apologised in conversation with Dennis,” Jens Lehmann said in a statement.
“As a former national team player he is very knowledgeable and has a great presence,” he concluded.
However, Hertha Berlin did not go easy on Lehmann. The club immediately removed the ex-Arsenal goalie from their club’s supervisory board and condemned his actions.
“Such statements in no way correspond to the values for which Hertha BSC stands and actively campaigns,” the club’s president Werner Gegenbauer said. “We distance ourselves from any form of racism.”
Multiple instances of racial abuse online had recently forced several clubs across Europe including England’s so-called ‘top six’, to observe a social media boycott for a period of 72 hours.
However, it did little to help the fight against racism in European football. Several players were targetted by people online during the boycott.
This includes 20-year-old Welsh international Rabbi Matondo, on loan to Stoke City from FC Schalke 04. He recently took to Twitter to say, “Good to see the boycott changed nothing Instagram.”
However, a spokesperson for Facebook, the company that owns Instagram, condemned the incident and spoke out against the hateful messages sent to Matondo.
“The abuse sent to Rabbi Matondo is unacceptable. We do not want it on Instagram and we quickly removed the accounts that sent it,” he said.
Unfortunately, it was not a one-off case. Morgan Whittaker, currently at Championship side Swansea, also got racial abuse on social media.
Swansea was one of the EFL clubs that observed the social media boycott.