Dr. Florian Schubert is a political, historical and sports scientist and works as a teacher in Hamburg. He has been researching for years on right-wing extremism and antisemitism in football and conceived the exhibition "Tatort Stadion" of the Alliance of Active Football Fans (BAFF). His dissertation on anti-Semitism in football recently appeared.
ZEIT ONLINE: Mr. Schubert, you have diagnosed in Germany a football anti-Semitism. What's this?
Florian Schubert: There are hardly any Jewish professionals, no Jewish clubs in the top leagues, but it happens that hundreds or even more fans roar together "Jewish Association". This does not happen anywhere else, not even on neo-Nazi demos. That only exists in football.
ZEIT ONLINE: Do you have an explanation for this?
Schubert: I see several: Most fans do not feel addressed, so anti-Semitic shouts are often not condemned. The surrounding ones do not react. The phenomenon persists. The situation is similar with antiziganism. Amazing, I find that also participate in fans scenes that show a right image of themselves. I think that's because anti-Semitism is the strongest form of expression to humiliate the opponent. In 2006 Erfurt fans painted a banner during the game against Dynamo Dresden, which read: "Jews", the "d" was modeled after the Dynamo crest. It was the reaction of the Erfurt fans on the first leg, in which the Dresden called the Erfurt "gypsy". The Erfurt had to refill in their fan logic and have chosen the term, which they think is even more devaluing. This has been confirmed in my interviews again and again: "Jew" is the highest possible devaluation in football.
ZEIT ONLINE: But not only there.
Schubert: What you learn in society is reproduced in football. And in football, the devaluation culture is also recognized and strongly defended. Again and again, and especially by fans.
ZEIT ONLINE: How is anti-Semitic behavior excused?
Schubert: Most of the time, something like, "That's football." Or: "Political statements are not political in football." Some clubs defend themselves that way, not only when it comes to anti-Semitism. The reasoning of the Schalker Ehrenrates for Clemens Tönnies statements is a recent example: "Discrimination, but no racism", that's ridiculous.
ZEIT ONLINE: Are there any further excuses for anti-Semitic statements?
Schubert: I observe that every individual responsibility is rejected. It appears that some believe that the longer they are called, the less anti-Semitic an insult they make. It is really amazing. A president of the Offenbacher Kickers once said to the "Jew, Jew, Eintracht Frankfurt" calls of his followers: I know that since my childhood and therefore it is not anti-Semitic. At the same time, this is another strategy: to refer to the tradition that something has always been called. "We have been provoked" is also one of those excuses. And from the outside there is also help: Often football fans are described as dull, not educated and drunk. This is what they call free of self-responsibility and guilt. As if they did not know better. So you do not take the problem seriously.
ZEIT ONLINE: Have you noticed a problem awareness in German football?
Schubert: Little. For example, those who use "Jude" pejoratively do not see it as a problem. Only when media reports and their association comes under pressure, they realize that it is problematic. But that does not mean that they feel responsible for it. The majority does not want to deal with (anti) discrimination and listens.
ZEIT ONLINE: And the associations and clubs?
Schubert: The federations are indeed further than in the nineties and there are clubs like the BVB, which should be mentioned as a notable exception. Because the BVB acknowledges problems and wants to do something about it. But there is a tendency to do too little. The Northeast German Association has not made a good picture when he punished the anti-Semitic cries from the Cottbusser block, but also sanctioned Babelsberger fans who opposed it. And for most others, writing the fight against anti-Semitism in the statues is one thing, but actively wanting to strengthen initiatives is not enough.