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Germany

Far-Right Leader Charged Over Racist Soccer Pamphlet

Prosecutors in Berlin have charged the head of the far-right NPD party and two others with incitement and defamation for a pamphlet that targeted non-white players during the soccer World Cup in 2006.

Members of the far right National Democratic Party, known by its German initials NPD, take part in a party convention in Berlin on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2006

The fliers said skin color was important to choosing members of the German national soccer team

At issue is a brochure that the far-right National Democratic Party printed ahead of the soccer World Cup, which Germany hosted in 2006. The fliers showed a traditional white German jersey with the number 25 -- the number worn by German-Nigerian player Patrick Owomoyela -- with the caption "White, not just the color of a jersey! For a real NATIONAL team!"

Prosecutor Sabine Herbeth said in a statement on Tuesday, March 25, that Udo Voigt, head of the NPD, as well as party spokesman Klaus Beier and member Frank Schwerdt have been charged.

Patrick Owomoyela

Owomoyela was one of the players targeted by the fliers

According to the charges, the fliers indicated that Owomoyela and other players were not worthy of playing for Germany because of their skin color.

Owomoyela said he was glad to see the case had made progress.

"For me it's an important sign that the proscuter is of the opinion that the case has enough substance to take further steps," he said, according to a statement released by his current team, Werder Bremen.

A second racist fliers

Authorities carrying out a search of the NPD headquarters in April 2006 found tens of thousands of the fliers and confiscated them.

But, according to prosecutors, the men charged then printed another flier, which featured a pictogram of a team made up of one white player and the question: "National Eleven in 2010?"

Owomoyela, who was born in Hamburg, has a German mother and a Nigerian father. He is no longer a member of the national team. According to his club, he is active as a sponsor and mentor with anti-racism organizations and other social projects.

Owomoyela and German soccer's governing body, the DFB, had filed charges related to the fliers in 2006.

If convicted, Voigt and the two other co-defendants could face up to five years of prison or house arrest.

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