German footballer Daniel Frahn has distanced himself from links to the far-right scene in light of recent allegations. The 32-year-old is without a club having been sacked by Chemnitzer FC for 'club-damaging behavior'.
Following a season which produced a successful promotion campaign back into Germany's third tier as well as a Sachsenpokal (state cup) win, you would think things would be on the rosy side for Chemnitzer FC. You'd be wrong.
The eastern German club currently finds itself in a state of chaos and there seems to be no end in sight to the negative headlines being generated by its current fight against the far-right contingent amongst its own fans.
With a battle for identity quickly escalating off the pitch, one player has wound up in the middle of a charged tug-of-war: former captain Daniel Frahn.
The 32-year-old is currently without a contract having been let go by Chemnitzer FC in early August for "massive club-damaging behavior" due to his affiliation with the far-right scene.
Daniel Frahn (left) holding a "Support your local hools" shirt up during a game in Chemnitz in March.
It started with Frahn holding up a t-shirt that read "Support your local hools!" back in March in remembrance of Thomas Haller, a controversial local far-right leader with club connections and founder of the hooligan group HooNaRa, short for "Hooligans Nazis Racists". On that occasion he received a four-game suspension and a €3,000 ($3,300) fine from the league authority.
Club steps up punishment for captain
However, when Frahn was pictured in the CFC block next to leading figures of right-wing fan groups 'Kaotic Chemnitz' and the disbanded 'NS Boys' for the trip to Hallescher FC on August 5, the club took sterner action. With reports also emerging that the then-injured striker had travelled to and from the ground in their company, the club promptly parted ways with their captain.
"We were horrified to have to recognize that our — now former — team captain Daniel Frahn turned out to be a great sympathizer of the radical right-wing and inhuman group 'Kaotic Chemnitz' and thus caused great damage to the club," a club statement said.
Frahn is taking his dismissal by the club to a labor tribunal, with a hearing expected in the middle of September. But with the decision intensifying an already fractious climate, the fans with far-right views have clung to Frahn as ‘one of their own'.
Amongst others, 'at least Daniel Frahn isn't a negro' was a chant heard throughout CFC's game against Bayern Munich reserves last weekend, prompting the club to file a complaint to police and Frahn to make his first public statement titled: "Respect and Acceptance".
"We have now reached a point where further silence would be a fatal and false signal. I am again having to defend myself after being portrayed as a sympathizer of radical, right-wing groups or as associated with right-wing ideas.
"It was with great shock and disappointment that I heard reports from fellow players about the chants coming from the Chemnitz fan block.
Frahn has his say
"These deplorable chants from sections of the fans, which abused both players and club officials, were both racist and anti-semitic and are completely unacceptable - these people should be banned from the club."
Frahn went on to say that it was "an absolute low blow" to hear his name was used "in connection with a racist insult". However, there's no getting past the fact that he was seen in the company of fans with far-right leanings. The striker has defended his actions as those of a player wanting to forge close ties with supporters.
"During my time at Chemnitz, Leipzig and Babelsberg, I always maintained a close relationship with the fans. It is because of that, that I was able to meet so many dedicated, cosmopolitan people, teammates and friends, which shouldn't be broken by a desire to group people together.
"In this difficult time, I ask all fans of Chemnitzer FC to act prudently and above all to renounce any discrimination. Please keep in mind that behind every player and employee of Chemnitzer FC is primarily a human being with a family and relatives."
The city of Chemnitz's ties to right-wing politics are still prevalent today. A total of 23.5 percent of voters cast their ballots for the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the 2019 European Parliament elections – making them the largest party. They enjoyed a rise in vote share of 13.8 percent in comparison to the 2014 election.
CFC have positioned themselves at the forefront of promoting tolerance and inclusion in the city. After the game against Bayern, the players didn't celebrate with the fans as is customary in Germany. "The reason for that was the chants emanating from the away end during the second half, which Chemnitzer FC and everyone involved in the club see as disgusting and distance ourselves from. Threats and chants such as 'Thomas Sobotzik [club CEO], you Jewish pig' and 'at least Daniel Frahn is not a negro' cannot be accepted in our society," read a club statement.
Now that Frahn has taken a hard stance against the right, the club should have more leverage to forge the identity of an open-minded club in keeping with the core values that German football has been fighting for.