RB Leipzig manager Ralf Rangnick has thrown his hat into the controversial comment ring by stating that politics and football shouldn’t mix. The current issue with Mezut Ozil’s departure from the German national team has sent shock waves through the perceived progressive country after accusations of discrimination were hurled at the football federation and fan base.
Rangnick Makes Controversial Comments on Politics in Football
“Football can basically bring a lot together, even topics that are otherwise difficult to unite,” said Rangnick on RB Live. “For this, but football must try to stay out of political positions. Football should continue to be aware of this function. This includes taking an apolitical role.”
The claim that teams and the game itself should take apolitical roles is surprising considering teams have tried to ingrain themselves in the culture of cities that they thrive in. FC Barcelona is inherently linked to the struggle for Catalonia independence.
Even in the 2. Bundesliga FC St. Pauli has taken on a progressive agenda as their identity, fighting against racism as well as economic issues in the game. For Rangnick to claim that teams should be apolitical comes at a time when players have expressed discrimination, including the likes of Ozil and Romelu Lukaku on the international stage.
“People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual-heritage families,” said Ozil. “Attitudes like their’s simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent. in the eyes of (DFB President Reinhard) Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose.”
The response to Ozil came rather quickly from Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness who represents one of the largest teams in the game: “All (Ozil) is doing on the field is playing crosses. Now he hides himself and his crap performance behind this photo.”
Hoeness referred to a photo of Ozil with controversial President of Turkey Erdogan.
Rangnick’s position on the matter is one that many in the game are taking, with the hopes that the Ozil situation will simply go away. However, the outward claim of the game being apolitical may be yet another off-putting dagger in the back of fans who already see Red Bull as a corporate entity ruining the game in Germany.
The same criticism is being levied against City Football Group who have been called out in the past for reputation laundering throughout the world for an oppressive regime in the United Arab Emirates.
“You have to look in football, that you cannot be stretched before every cart,” said Rangnick. “The club has a clear opinion, it shows that it is committed to a very strong social position. But we must not let ourselves be stretched before every cart.
“We will not approve banners with political statements in the stadium, this is a stadium and a football game.”