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Motion Detector No. 9: #OurNeighbour – 2018 World Cup

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

#OurNeighbour: Sporting events provide an arena for the negotiation of national identities. To mark the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the MEK’s "Motion Detector" will look at how in 2016, the diversity of Germany’s football team became the subject of heated public debate.

The German football team that will compete in the World Cup in Russia is extremely diverse. The parents of the team members come from Poland, Turkey, Ghana, Bavaria and Swabia, from Sierra Leone and Spain. Along with their German citizenship, a number of players also have Tunisian or French passports. They reflect the diversity of the German people, and represent the country in international competitions such as the Football World Cup.

But not everybody seems able to accept this reality. In the lead-up to the European Football Championship in May 2016, AfD politician Alexander Gauland created a scandal when in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung he said of the national-team player Jerôme Boateng: “People like him as a footballer. But they don’t want a Boateng living next door to them.”

Using the hashtag “UnserNachbar” (OurNeighbour), large numbers of people, including other  footballers, demonstrated their solidarity with Jerôme Boateng on Twitter and Facebook. For example, Benedikt Höwedes shared a photo of himself with Boateng on Twitter accompanied by the caption: “If you want to win titles for Germany, you need neighbours like him.” In a friendly match in Augsburg on the night after the Gauland interview was published, fans brought a large banner that read “Jerome, be our neighbour!”.

Other European national teams have goal scorers with diverse cultural backgrounds: Zlatan Ibrahimovic was long the symbol of the Swedish national team. In 2017, Emerson Palmieri dos Santos from Brazil became an Italian citizen and today plays for Italy. The parents of Kenny Tete, who plays for the Netherlands, come from Mozambique and Indonesia. They all form part of the European neighbourhood, and are symbols of the diverse cultures and contexts that make up the character of the nation states of Europe. Who knows, maybe one day a Europe-wide team will make an appearance at an international tournament.

The "Motion Detector" has established itself as a new format through which the Museum Europäischer Kulturen regularly addresses contemporary issues. The showcase is located in the foyer of Arnimallee 25, right next to the entrance.