Unity in Diversity: Ilkay Gundogan Advocates for Ethnic Representation

Ilkay Gundogan, captain of Germany's national team, emphasizes the need for leaders from ethnic backgrounds to truly reflect Germany's diverse society. His statement follows a controversial poll revealing a fifth of Germans prefer more white players in the national team. Gundogan believes leadership is about merit, not ethnicity.


Reuters | Berlin | Updated: 06-06-2024 22:04 IST | Created: 06-06-2024 22:04 IST
Unity in Diversity: Ilkay Gundogan Advocates for Ethnic Representation
Ilkay Gundogan
  • Country:
  • Germany

Germany needs leaders from ethnic backgrounds in order to accurately reflect today's society in the country, national team captain Ilkay Gundogan said on Thursday. Gundogan, whose parents are Turkish, was speaking days after the furore caused by a public broadcaster ARD poll which showed a fifth of Germans wanted more white players in the national team.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann, preparing his side for this month's Euro 2024 on home soil, and several players said the poll had been racist. "I know that people like me are needed in leading positions because that reflects the new reality of Germany," Gundogan told Der Spiegel magazine.

"We may look different but we are also German. I know that I can be a role model. But it is not something I want to stress too much." The poll, commissioned by ARD, a public broadcaster with rights to Euro 2024 starting on June 14, said that about one-fifth of those questioned wanted more white players in the national team.

"I don't want to take myself too seriously," said Gundogan, who was born and raised in Germany and made captain in 2023. "I did not become team captain because of my migration background. They have nothing to do with each other. It is about how team mates and coaches see you.

"You are only made captain if you are seen and recognised by the team as open, honest and good." The broadcaster said a reporter working on an ARD documentary about football and diversity was repeatedly confronted with statements about the make-up of the national team.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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