German football federation looks into racial incident against player of Afghan origin

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The German football federation is investigating whether Union Berlin player Florian Hübner used a xenophobic slur against Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Nadiem Amiri when the Bundesliga teams played Friday.

The federation said Saturday that there was a “suspicion” that Hübner racially insulted Amiri, whose parents are from Afghanistan, at the end of Union’s 1-0 win.

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“We will take on this initial suspicion and initiate appropriate investigations at the start of the new week,” said Anton Nachreiner, chairman of the federation’s control committee. “For the first step, we will write to everyone involved and ask them to comment. We will also evaluate the available material up to then.”

Nachreiner said the federation “fundamentally does not tolerate any racism or discrimination.”

Friday’s game ended with Amiri angrily approaching Hübner and pointing his finger in the Union defender’s face after the final whistle. Amiri also had heated words with other Union players. Union coach Urs Fischer tried without success to console the furious midfielder.

Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah told broadcaster DAZN that Amiri was abused by an opponent who used a racially charged term referring to the Germany midfielder’s Afghan background.

“It doesn’t belong on the football pitch, no matter how emotional things get,” Tah said. “It’s the most bitter part of the evening. I hope there are consequences.”

Amiri said Saturday that he accepted an apology from the player involved.

“He came to me in the changing room after the game,” Amiri told Leverkusen’s website. “There were ugly words on the pitch said in the heat of the moment that he’s very sorry for. He credibly assured me of that and therefore the matter is now settled for me.”

Neither Amiri nor Tah referred to the Union player by name.

Fischer missed the incident.

“I heard there were words on the pitch that have no place on the pitch,” Fischer said after the game, before calling for an investigation.

Union welcomed the federation’s investigation.

“Union Berlin completely distances itself from racism and discrimination in football and in our society. To be clear: it’s not acceptable in any form,” the club said on Twitter.

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