What did he want to say ?: Friedhelm Funkel does not understand racism

It should be praise that Friedhelm Funkel wanted to give his opponent Bayer Leverkusen. But the coach of 1. FC Köln expresses himself in an unnecessarily complicated manner and thus attracts massive criticism. His attempt at justification doesn’t make it any better.

Outside player. If Friedhelm Funkel had simply said “outside player”, nobody would accuse the 1. FC Köln coach of racism. But because he didn’t say it, the contradiction after his debut, which was also unsuccessful in terms of sport, is enormous. If he had simply said “outside player”, the topic of conversation would now only be the 0: 3 in the Rhenish derby at Bayer Leverkusen and the relegation, which Effzeh has come a little closer to. But Funkel said something irritating when he wanted to praise the Leverkusen goal scorers Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby.

Instead, the 67-year-old said: “You have an enormous speed due to your, uh, yes, one or the other expression is no longer allowed to say” when he stepped in front of the Sky microphone after the final whistle. And then added: “Through their players, who are just so fast.” The reaction to this was as clear as it is understandable, because there are many indications that Funkel wanted to reproduce a racist stereotype at this point in order to highlight the two black football professionals. Because “outside players”, also like “attackers” or “offensive players” are hardly the “expressions that can no longer be used”.

And Funkel himself restricted his room for interpretation the next day when he assured WDR2 that he “had worked with so many players from African countries and had never had a problem with them.” Why should the long-time and media-experienced Bundesliga coach expressly emphasize this fact? That’s not what the discussion is about. This classification makes almost exclusively sense if “the no longer expressible expression” was something that referred to the (assumed) origins of Bailey, born and raised in the Jamaican capital Kingston, and Diaby, born and raised in Paris.

With this, Funkel seems to be defending himself against the accusation that he is a racist. But nobody seriously assumed that. Instead, it was initially about the fact that Funkel wanted to say a racist prejudice, a racist argumentation into the Sky microphone. With his “justification” he only harms himself further, since it too appears to be shaped by racist stereotypes. He could also have simply said: “Sorry, I slipped out after the game, but now I know that it was crap. I’ll learn from it and ask for your forgiveness.” But he doesn’t.

“Racism without evil intent”

The trainer of 1. FC Köln also left it unclear what he would have liked to say about Bailey and Diaby. Instead, he can be accused of attempting a perpetrator-victim reversal, because the sharp reactions to his statement would have “also made him a little sad”. Especially since he was “totally surprised” by the echo his allusion to the explicit reproduction of racist stereotypes had evoked. “I don’t know exactly what went through my head,” said Funkel. In the meantime, he failed to apologize by simply saying: “If I’ve been misunderstood, I’m sorry.” Funkel does not see the problem in his actions, but in those who want to “misunderstand” it.

The evening before, Funkel had announced a statement from the club that he had “only wanted to refer to the enormous speed of Leverkusen’s players” in his much-criticized statement. As a reminder, his sentence was: “You have an enormous speed due to your, uh, yes, one or the other expression is no longer allowed to be said.” So he had long since made the reference to speed when he braked himself.

Instead, Funkel claimed that “everyone who knows me knows who I am”. By which he might also mean that Friedhelm Funkel claims not to be a racist. But it doesn’t have to be in order to harbor racism. Which he has absorbed in the course of his life, perhaps has been conveyed, and has learned consciously and unconsciously.

A quote from the journalist and author Alice Hasters fits in with this. With “What white people do not want to hear about racism, but should know”, she has written a highly regarded and readable book on the subject: “There is also racism without malicious intent”, like her the “Augsburger Allgemeine” said. Funkels reference to the fact that he “worked with many players from all continents” suggests: He suspects that he actually made a racist statement in this interview.

However, Funkel made his testimony in front of a microphone and a camera, i.e. in front of an audience of (potential) millions. In which it is completely utopian that each individual is able to assess the person Friedhelm Funkel and his attitudes, behavior and ways of thinking. For the vast majority of people, the only thing left is to get an idea of ​​Sparkle with the help of his public statements. And as a result of this interview and the unconvincing clarification, many are rightly disappointed.