BERLIN (Reuters) - German politicians and a top newspaper editor denounced a far-right politician on Friday after she suggested on Twitter that the national soccer team’s loss to France was the fault of players with an immigrant background.
Beatrix von Storch, a deputy leader of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, wrote on Twitter after France beat Germany 2-0 in the Euro 2016 semi-final: “Maybe next time the German NATIONAL TEAM should play again.”
Three German players with an immigration background were part of the opening line-up against France on Thursday in Marseille and two more came in as substitutes.
Most Germans take pride in the diversity of their national team, which won the 2014 World Cup with stars such as Jerome Boateng, Mezut Ozil and Sami Khedira, highlighting how far the country has come since the defeat of the Nazi regime in 1945.
The comments were later deleted from von Storch’s Twitter account, but that did not stop a storm of online protest.
Ralf Stegner, a politician with the left-leaning Social Democrats, responded to von Storch with: “Pure foolishness”.
Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of mass-selling Bild newspaper’s online edition, said von Storch was a “dumb racist”.
The incident adds to the woes of the AfD, which attracted droves of voters in three regional elections in March but has been hit this week by an internal row over anti-Semitism that caused a split in a regional branch of the party.
An Infratest Dimap poll for national broadcaster ARD published on Thursday showed a 2 percentage point drop in support for the AfD to 12 percent from last month. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives enjoyed a three point gain to 34 percent.
It is not the first time that the AfD has stirred anger with comments on soccer stars with an immigrant background.
Party vice-chairman Alexander Gauland told a newspaper last month that people would not want Boateng, born in Berlin to a Ghanaian father and German mother, as their neighbor.
Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Gareth Jones