Berlin, Germany | AFP | Bayern Munich face one of the final obstacles in their hunt for an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title this weekend as players in Germany contemplate staging collective protests following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
The German FA said on Wednesday footballers including Jadon Sancho who paid tributes to Floyd during last
week’s games would not be punished, with calls since growing from several Bayern players for further action.
“Sport always was and is able to share the power, to try to show to the world we are a community and that we are strong together,” said Bayern forward Thomas Mueller, ahead of Saturday’s game with Bayer Leverkusen.
“We have so many different people in the sport, it doesn’t matter the colour. Sports have the power to bring people together to speak with one tongue.”
Joshua Kimmich revealed Bayern players have talked about using their platform to reinforce their stance against racism, while World Cup winner Jerome Boateng urged more famous white sportspeople to add their voices to the chorus of outrage over Floyd’s death.
Floyd, a black American man, died after a white policeman kneeled on his neck for several minutes. His death has sparked several days of protests in US cities, some of which have turned violent amid accusations of further police brutality used against demonstrators.
– ‘We can do much more’ –
“Our voices carry, we have a platform and we touch many people,” Boateng, whose father is from Ghana, told Deutsche Welle radio.
“All white sportspeople who don’t speak out are obviously not racists, but of course it is desirable that they also use their notoriety for this cause. Many do it, but I think we can do much more.”
With five games remaining Bayern hold a seven-point lead over Borussia Dortmund, whose players took a knee during Thursday’s training session in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said he “stood 100 percent behind” Sancho’s call for justice although a number of players including the England winger courted controversy after they were pictured without masks alongside a hairdresser.
At the other end of the table, Werder Bremen have slipped back deep into relegation trouble after a 3-0 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday greatly complicated the task of maintaining their top-flight status.
The loss was all the more disappointing for the four-time champions after a 1-0 win at Freiburg on May 23 had given them hope. Werder are now three points from safety and need a positive result at home against Wolfsburg on Sunday.
“That was a setback but definitely not a knockout,” Werder coach Florian Kohfeldt said after the Eintracht defeat. “It has become harder but it’s not impossible. We all knew that it would be hard, but we’re going to give it a go.”
One to watch: Marcus Thuram
The Borussia Moenchengladbach striker has scored four times in as many games since the Bundesliga resumed last month to reach double digits in his debut season in Germany.
Thuram, the son of 1998 World Cup winner and anti-racism activist Lilian, made a statement of his own in last Sunday’s 4-1 win over Union Berlin, kneeling and bowing his head after scoring the first of his two goals, in a gesture reminiscent of past protests by NFL players in the US against racism and police brutality.
Gladbach return to action on Friday at Freiburg as they jostle with RB Leipzig and Leverkusen for Champions League qualification.
86 – Bayern’s league goals this season. No team has ever scored as many times through 29 games of a Bundesliga campaign.
17 – seconds Stefan Ilsanker was on the field before scoring against Werder Bremen. The Austria international struck twice in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory after coming on as a late substitute.
308 – Bundesliga appearances made by Japan’s Makoto Hasebe, an Asian record he shares with South Korean great Cha Bum-kun.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Freiburg v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1830)
RB Leipzig v Paderborn, Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt v Mainz, Fortuna Dusseldorf v Hoffenheim (all 1330), Borussia Dortmund v Hertha Berlin (1630)
Werder Bremen v Wolfsburg (1130), Union Berlin v Schalke (1330), Augsburg v Cologne (1600)