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German FA condemns ‘insulting’ remarks deriding Zelensky visit

Ukraine president says 'not the time' for elections
Source: Video Screenshot

The German FA (DFB) on Monday condemned a social media post made by one of the organisation’s vice presidents which ridiculed Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky‘s visit to Berlin.

Hermann Winkler, the vice president for youth football at the German FA and head of operations in the eastern state of Saxony, said in a post on Instagram on Sunday that the capital had been shut down for the visit of “a former Ukrainian actor”.

The post, accompanied by a picture of the Soviet World War Two Memorial in eastern Berlin’s Treptower Park, complained that the “largely sealed off” city was “partially closed to tourists” and said “at least the memorial is still standing for now.”

Access to the government district in Berlin had been severely restricted on Sunday on the occasion of Zelensky’s first visit to Germany since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the German capital, he met with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier before travelling on to the western city of Aachen to receive a European prize for efforts towards European unity.

German FA President Bernd Neuendorf on Monday said Winkler’s statements were “unbearable and insulting”, revealing he made a phonecall to inform him the sentiments were “incompatible with the principles of the German FA.”

Winkler, who has since deactivated his Instagram account, apologised on Monday on Facebook, saying he made the statements while “in a very emotional state at the memorial.”

“I would not write that again in such a way. I apologise for that and the irritation it caused.”

Winkler said in the post he condemned the “war and Putin’s aggression”, saying “everything must be done to end this war as quickly as possible.”

The official, who previously served as a politician with the Christian Democrats (CDU) in Saxony, has previously come under criticism for his statements and his ties to Russia.

On Monday, CDU lawmaker Marco Wanderwitz told German magazine Spiegel Winkler had “called for coalitions with the far-right AFD” when he was a member of the European parliament.

“It fits into the picture today” that Winkler “insults the Ukranian president and his brave people.”

The German FA has scheduled a friendly match between Germany and Ukraine in Bremen on June 12, with all proceeds going to the war-torn nation.

“We want to use it to send a clear signal for peace and international understanding and against war and destruction,” Neuendorf said when announcing the fixture in April.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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