Friday, October 12, 2007

German reaction to Ashkan Dejagah

With the permanent suspension of German U-21 international Ashkan Dejagah for refusing to travel with the team for a U-21 match in Tel Aviv, Israel, it's been interesting to see the reactions his decision has elicited. A good place to start is in Germany, which gives us a look into how soccer and politics are sometimes two sides of the same coin.

From the The left-leaning Die Tageszietung: "Naturally Dieter Graumann is right when he says that 'it is inconceivable and impossible that a national team player initiates a private boycott of Jews.' But is that what Ashkan Dejagah has done? He has cited 'personal reasons' for asking to be left out of the international match. If the Iranians wanted to, for whatever reason, they could mercilessly exploit the Dejagah case. Dejagah knows this and he has good reason to fear it. Naturally one would have been pleased if Dejagah had made a stand against this inhumane regime that is permanently campaigning against Israel, and had played there. But you can't demand that he do so when he has family in Tehran. It would be incorrect to immediately assume that he has a fundamental dislike of Jews. ... People should keep in mind the reasons behind Dejagah's decision. And they should seriously think about whether they would like to accept the responsibility for what would have happened if he had played."

From the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Dejagah could have wrangled his way out of the game with a conveniently timed injury ... Instead he opened his big mouth and said he couldn't go for 'political reasons.' One can imagine how great his fear is that his relatives in Iran might be persectued (if he played). And how great his fear is that he would not be able to travel to Iran with an Israeli stamp in his passport. His close friends know who Ashkan Dejagah fears the most in this matter. Not the regime in Tehran, but his father in Berlin. The family has lived in Berlin for 20 years but it is no secret that Mohammad Dejagah would have preferred to see his son in the Iranian team uniform rather than the German one. (According to media reports, Mohammad Dejagah has told the Iranian state news agency IRNA that he would like to see his son playing on the Tehran's national team.) Their new country has not become a real home for the family. Dejagah's case is, above all, a typical Berlin example of failed integration."

From the conservative Die Welt: "No one has to be a hero, you can't enforce civil courage. You can understand that Dejagah is afraid to play on Friday in the match against Israel ... Dejagah could have given many excuses to stay away from the game unobtrusively. He is reported to have said 'I have more Iranian than German blood in my veins.' One doesn't have to accept that. A national player represents his nation -- he is neither an international nor a dual citizenship player. The young man has revealed an important dilemma in the immigration society. There are many immigrants ... who maintain a completely functional relationship to their new home. ... They often demand full civil rights but then, after they get them, they still feel foreign. And they often feel a deep loyalty to their old home and to the blood in their veins. In more naive times this double orientation was lauded as enriching society: two identities ... were better than one. Dejagah has now emphatically shown that unclear loyalties can be a danger to a free society."

Germany suspends Iran-born player [Jerusalem Post]
German-Iranian Footballer 'Typical Example of Failed Integration' [Der Spiegel]


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