Mood for the afd

How an interview with the president of a soccer club spurred the spiral of right-wing aggrandizement that even a police unionist can handle

At the end of the year, when politics takes its winter break, it is the time for long contemplative interviews in the newspapers. The conversation that two FAZ editors had with the president of the Eintracht Frankfurt soccer club, Peter Fischer, also belongs in this category. It’s about Fischer’s life’s work, his future, his grounding in Frankfurt, and a little bit about politics, too. But the few sentences are now making headlines. Finally, they were summarized succinctly in the headline for the interview. "Anyone who votes for the AfD cannot be a member of our party." The right-wing Internet community promptly became incensed, calling Fischer an anti-democrat worse than the Stasi. Fischer propagates the end of the secret ballot, was also insinuated.

If someone had read up on what the Eintracht president actually meant, all the excitement would have been superfluous. The much-discussed quote is under the heading of internationality and cosmopolitanism

"The internationality of the Eintracht squad has caused a lot of discussion. It was clear from the beginning that you also consider it an indication of Eintracht’s openness to the world. Feel confirmed?"

I no longer trust anyone in this country when national populists can get 13 percent of the vote. I will take a clear position at the general meeting that it is not compatible with our statutes to vote for AfD. No one can be a member of us who votes for this party, in which there are racist and inhuman tendencies. We as Eintracht Frankfurt are known as opponents of the anti-Semites and are shaped by our history, which should be known to everyone who liked to identify with us: We were called in the Nazi era as "Juddebube" denigrated. Today, together with Matthias Thomas from the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum, we are laying stumbling blocks in the city. I spoke to the Frankfurt Jewish community on the occasion of the commemoration of the liberation of the prisoners from Auschwitz concentration camp. We currently have members from more than 70 nations, in our boxing department there are young Israelis who compete against Palestinians in sporting competitions. We are clearly positioned: We are absolutely open to the world, racism has no place in our society. That’s what I stand for as president.

Peter Fischer, FAZ

So there is no question here that Fischer now wants to find out who votes for the AfD in order to exclude them. It is rather a question of attitude for him. Fischer thinks that a position for the AfD is not compatible with the commitment of the association as he described it. This is made even clearer in the journalists’ follow-up question and the answer given by the association’s chairman: "Ame that there are no AfD voters among Eintracht members?"

I am not naive and I am sure that there are AfD voters in our country as well. But I will make it very clear what we think about it and that the club stands for other values and goals. Sport must be political, and not only in terms of sports policy. Sport must also be quite clearly political and raise its voice against undesirable developments in society when it is appropriate and necessary. We have to watch out again and again. I don’t even want to hear later that I said: I didn’t know that, or I misjudged it. I come from a generation that is informed, that can read and that sees what is happening. I would like to implement this. And here I must also be prepared, as Eintracht Frankfurt, as one of the roughest and most important clubs in Germany, to show clear edges and take a stand, to say: There are more important things than, for example, injury time or whether the ball was now in front of or behind the line. I am obliged to say to myself: Fight back if you have to fight back. If you have to be against something, then be against it. And be for it when you say: You have to be for it. This attitude has always been part of my life, and these are all things that make me look forward to a next term with excitement.

Peter Fischer, FAZ

Now one can criticize Fischer for being quite naive, for referring far too strongly to the AfD. Didn’t the CDU under Roland Koch campaign against the reform of the German citizenship law in 1999?? Wasn’t there a collection of signatures where people stood in line because they wanted to sign a petition? "against which foreigners" wanted to sign? Didn’t a club like Eintracht Frankfurt also have to take a stand on this??

But the storm of indignation that has arisen is hypocritical and fits in with the AfD’s attempt to stage itself as the victim of supposedly red-green dominated institutions. It is clear that no one can be regulated for an electoral vote, because no one can know what someone will vote for.

It is also significant that none of Fischer’s critics has addressed the core of his statements, i.e. that the attitude of the association contradicts the central demands of the AfD. Fischer also explicitly referred to how the association was called anti-Semitic. The right-wing rage burgers, who lately like to pose as friends of Israel without really having put aside their anti-Semitism, were silent about this.

The shitstorm against Fischer is reminiscent of the uproar after the director of Berlin’s Friedrichsstadtpalast declared AfD voters unwanted after the Bundestag election. He also meant a question of attitude and never demanded administrative measures. Nevertheless he got numerous hate mails and threats. Finally he distanced himself from his statements. In the end, it was rather the AfD that profited from this, as it was once again able to present itself as a victim of persecution.

It would perhaps be better if such institutions as soccer clubs and amusement houses were to take practical measures to ensure that potential AfD voters do not feel comfortable there. For example, it was possible to address and invite migrants in particular,

A police unionist with right-wing slogans

Now, the furor over the Fischer interview was not the only opportunity for the AfD to draw attention to itself. As has often been the case, the federal chairman of the German police union, Rainer Wendt, once again proved to be a keyword giver here. He criticized the establishment of a protection zone for women at the New Year’s Eve party as a disastrous signal. For him the protected zones "an end to equality, freedom and self-determination".

It is quite astonishing how clearly Wendt is positioning himself here against long-standing demands of women’s associations and is thus also in line with parties like the AfD. Demands for safe spaces for women didn’t just arise in the fight against Islamism. They have been demanded and enforced for years by the women’s movement. This should give women protection from violent men. The demands for special women’s shelters have been fought by various right-wing groups. Wendt, who has received much applause from the right, stands in this tradition.