Tue, Mar 24, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Soccer federation backs black player in trial in Germany


Germany’s soccer federation said yesterday it fully backs a black former national team defender in a trial that will see the head of the nation’s leading far-right party answer charges of racial incitement and defamation over a party pamphlet.

National Democratic Party head Udo Voigt and two other party leaders are to appear in a Berlin district court today over charges linked to the pamphlet circulated in 2006.

The text insinuated that Patrick Owomoyela — born of a German mother and a Nigerian father — was not worthy to play for Germany.

The flyers showed the German team’s traditional white jersey imprinted with the No. 25 — worn at the time by Owomoyela — over the title: “White, not just a jersey color! For a real NATIONAL team!”

Owomoyela and the federation filed a lawsuit against the party.

In a statement yesterday, the federation said it was pressing charges to fight “the racist campaigns against players for the German national team.”

Prosecutors charged Voigt and two others responsible for printing the leaflets with two counts of racial incitement and one of defamation. If found guilty the three could each face a fine or up to three years in prison.

At the time, the NPD called the charges “absurd” and “political,” insisting the use of Owomoyela’s No. 25 was “pure chance.”

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