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Far right targets Germany's Rüdiger after 'kill' comment

July 1, 2024

In a postgame interview, German defender Antonio Rüdiger addressed criticism that his side did not "kill" Denmark earlier in the match. Germany's far right has attacked Rüdiger for his choice of words.

Antonio Rüdiger celebrates after a successful tackle
Rüdiger's post-tackle celebration has become symbolic for Germany's passion during Euro 2024Image: Christian Charisius/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's impressive win over Denmark cemented Julian Nagelsmann's team's status as one of the favorites to win Euro 2024.

One of the team's top performers on the pitch, and leaders off it, is Antonio Rüdiger. The Real Madrid defender has been in top form, playing every single minute of the tournament so far.

However, one sentence — in fact, one word — from the defender's postgame interview on Saturday has caused some backlash online.

"Those who watched the game saw that we were dominant from its beginning," said Rüdiger.

"The one thing we can criticize is that we did not kill them earlier."

Far-right criticism

"It's an unfortunate choice of words," said one X user about Rüdiger's quote. At the same time, many saw it as language frequently used in English by professional athletes who might, for example, describe the missed chances that would have ensured a victorious outcome much earlier in the match. 

Rüdiger has also been criticized by several social media accounts with far-right political orientation.

In the past several months, the German defender has become a target for German far-right supporters, who argued Rüdiger's Instagram post marking the month of Ramadan included an Islamist gesture. He rejected the allegations.

"I will not offer a platform for division and radicalization," he said at the time.

Germany's Antonio Rüdiger and Nico Schlotterbeck are seen from behind
Germany's defenders put on an incredible performance against DenmarkImage: Patrick Scheiber/IMAGO


Like France and other countries in Europe, Germany has seen a rise in support for the far right, mostly in the form of the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which proved to be Germany's second strongest political party in the EU elections in June. 

Rüdiger has been targeted in posts by the party's supporters. Moreover, in an interview by regional public broadcaster MDR at the AfD's party conference in the western German city of Essen, one member of the AfD's youth organization said he thinks the defender deserves to be "expelled."

Tens of thousands of people came to Essen on Saturday to protest against the party and its supporters.

Rüdiger star of the match vs. Denmark

The same day, just 30 minutes away in Dortmund, Germany took on Denmark and Rüdiger provided an incredible performance, resulting in him being voted the "man of the match."

A symbolic moment came shortly before the match's conclusion when a successful tackle by Rüdiger prevented Denmark's Jannik Vestergaard from receiving the ball inside the German box. The defender celebrated his tackle by pumping his fists while lying on the ground.

Some fans saw it as an appropriate response to those who don't think the Rüdiger should represent Germany.

"Rüdiger shows what it means to give your heart and soul for your country's success," posted one user.

With elections coming up in three of Germany's right-leaning eastern states, such moments could have a significant effect well beyond the German side's Euro 2024 campaign. They might even have an impact on the country's political discourse.

Edited by: Kyle McKinnon