Bundesliga side 1. FSV Mainz 05 have sent out a strong message against racism and discrimination after a fan cancelled his club membership citing the amount of black players in the squad as the reason.
“Usually, we’re concerned when we hear of one of our members wanting to cancel their membership in the club. However, sometimes the opposite is true. In light of the current situation, we are deciding to share portions of an unacceptable notice of cancellation we received from one of our (now former) members this past week,” announced the club in a statement which also included the letter by the former club member as well as the reply by the club’s fan service.
Letter by the former club member
“For several months now I have been unable to identify myself with this club (professional football)! I’ve since gotten the impression that I’m at the Africa Cup, instead of in the German Bundesliga. I know what’s coming, but no – I’m not racist in any way. I resent that. But, too much is enough.
But when the starting line-up for the past weeks has featured nine (!!!) Black players and German talents are being given fewer and fewer chances of their own, then this is no longer the club that has been near and dear to my heart over all these years. (…) Noveski, Bungert, Rose, Babatz, Weiland, Bell and many others stood for values and mentality. Those were players who gave their blood, sweat and tears (…)”
Response by 1. FSV Mainz 05
While we usually regret to hear of anyone wanting to cancel their membership and fight passionately for each of our members, in this instance we cannot begin to express any regret.
Racism is born when racist thoughts are spread, not only when someone calls themselves a racist – something which rarely happens. And yes, you are right: you cannot identify yourself with our club. For us, skin colour or any other characteristics simply do not play a role. All that matters to us, is that someone is human and that they share in our values. Those are the kinds of people we welcome in our community. In light of this, we welcome your cancellation as the reasons you’ve given clearly prove that you do not share those values that our club is based on. Our position is clearly defined in our statutes and in our mission statement, which was developed in partnership with our fans and members.
Section 1, paragraph 4 of our statutes, which all of our members acknowledge, states:
“The club promotes the function of sport as a connecting element between nationalities, cultures, religions and social classes. It offers a sporting home to children, youths, adults and people with disabilities, regardless of their gender, ancestry, skin colour, origin, faith, social class or sexuality. Mainz 05 are a cosmopolitan club; we are neutral in terms of party politics or denomination.”
Furthermore, the mission statement goes on to say:
“We stand for openness, respect and humanity. We take responsibility and are tolerant, cosmopolitan, diverse, colourful and fair, show solidarity, are socially committed, integrative and inclusive. We stand up for our values, and actively defend them and pass them on to future generations of fans and members. We welcome all people who share in these values, regardless of their age, gender, skin colour, origin, physical or mental condition, religion, social class or sexuality.”
We know from personal discussions that the players you named, such as Nikolce Noveski, Niko Bungert, Marco Rose, Christof Babatz , Niclas and Dennis Weiland, Stefan Bell, and many, many more share our values, as does our current captain Danny Latza and his vice-captains Daniel Brosinski and Moussa Niakhaté. The latter showed in Saturday’s derby win against Frankfurt that he is a role model in terms of enthusiasm, mentality and his will to win, despite his young age. It was due to exactly these characteristics that he led the team to the win despite the absence of Danny Latza.
The goal we scored against Union Berlin came from strong work by Mainz youth products: After Leandro Barreiro, born in Erpeldingen in Luxembourg and who has played at Mainz since the U17 level, dispossessed Union, he supplied Ridle Baku to score, who has been at Mainz since the age of 10, and has been in the Germany U21 side for a long time also. We are proud of these players. For us, they are simply great people, for us they are simply our boys from Mainz. Bearing this in mind, it’s particularly deceitful of you to see an opportunity to explicitly blame the skin colour of our players for our patch of bad form. Choosing to share these views at this time, where people around the world are standing up against discrimination and showing solidarity following the death of George Floyd – including several athletes and Bundesliga players – goes to prove that these unacceptable values are deeply ingrained in your character.
Unlike you, we understand unreservedly that “Black Lives Matter”.
Kudos to 1. FSV Mainz 05!