Kevin-Prince Boateng says he can sympathise with Mesut Ozil‘s decision to withdraw from international football due to racism in Germany because he’s “been there”.
The half-brother of Germany international Jerome, Berlin-born Boateng chose to play for Ghana despite representing the country of his birth at youth level after the fallout of a tackle on Michael Ballack that ended the German hero’s chances of playing at the 2010 World Cup.
Boateng, then playing for Portsmouth, fouled Chelsea‘s Ballack in the 2010 FA Cup final, prompting criticism that he was the “bad boy” of German football. That came after a 2009 comment from a German pundit that Boateng “was not able to be reintegrated into society” after a foul on Wolfsburg’s Makoto Hasebe while playing for Borussia Dortmund.
Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, announced a temporary retirement from Germany duty after this summer’s World Cup, citing racism at the top levels of the country’s football federation, as well as in society at large, after dealing with over-the-top media criticism for posing for a photo with Turkish president Recep Erdogan.
“To be honest, I was shocked, because I never expected it,” Boateng told Bild.
“I think that it was a stress reaction. I have been there.
“I know what’s it like when everyone has a go at you, when criticism is harsh, and your family is part of it. This drags you down and you can’t get on with your life.”
Boateng has had to deal with racism plenty of times in his career, once leading his AC Milan team off in protest after being subjected to racist abuse in a 2013 friendly.
WDR1 Live, one of Germany’s biggest radio stations, honoured the Ghana international last December for his fight against racism.
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Favre stepped down as Nice coach last week amid speculation linking him with the Dortmund job.
The 60-year-old Swiss has previously coached Hertha BSC and Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, helping the former to fourth place in 2008/09 and saving the latter from relegation in 2011/12.
“Coaching Borussia Dortmund is an exciting task that I’m delighted to take on,” Favre said on the Dortmund website.
“I’d like to thank the directors for the faith they’ve shown in me. We’ll now work together on the new team.
“BVB is one of the most interesting clubs in Europe and I’m looking forward to returning to the Bundesliga, which I know extremely well and always kept an eye on during my two years in Nice.”
Favre will replace Peter Stoger, who signed a short-term deal as Dortmund coach in December following the sacking of Peter Bosz.
🤝 Lucien #Favre wird Cheftrainer beim BVB!— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) 22 May 2018
Der 60-jährige Schweizer erhält einen Vertrag bis 2️⃣0️⃣2️⃣0️⃣!
🗯 "Borussia Dortmund zu trainieren, ist eine reizvolle Aufgabe, die ich sehr gerne übernehme!" pic.twitter.com/h7v0G1Lb6f
Stoger helped Dortmund recover from eighth place to qualify for the Champions League as they finished in fourth, beating Bayer Leverkusen to Europe’s premier competition on goal difference.
However, the Dortmund hierarchy were keen to go in a new direction this summer.
“The appointment of Lucien Favre as coach is an important aspect of our fresh sporting start this summer,” said sporting director Michael Zorc.
“He’s highly regarded by us for the technical qualities that he demonstrated in impressive style many times throughout his spells with Hertha BSC and Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, and more recently with Nice.”
The wideman excelled during his sole season at the Westfalenstadion, scoring 10 goals in 49 games for the Bundesliga giants after moving from Ligue 1 side Rennes.
The Blaugrana moved for the 20-year-old after losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, but Dortmund stalwart Weidenfeller was not happy with the way Dembele conducted himself as he sought a transfer, branding his behaviour “ridiculous”.
“That’s not the way to leave a club,” the goalkeeper told ESPN of Dembele’s departure. “It caused unbelievable unrest and nobody could calm down.
“This is a team sport – football is not tennis. He did not even take his boots [before leaving] – it’s ridiculous. Before, I could not imagine that there is such a thing.”
Weidenfeller, 37, has spent almost his entire career in Westphalia, joining BVB in 2002 from Kaiserslautern. And he criticised the attitude of Dembele towards the club that helped develop him into a world-class talent.
“Dembele was given the opportunity to make a name for himself at Dortmund at the age of 19. Here, he developed into a player that Barcelona wanted to buy,” said the five-times capped Germany international.
“But instead of being grateful, he left the club, staying at home, striking and letting his team-mates down. That’s just bad style – no manners.”