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Footballer Podolski threatens to sue Breitbart

August 21, 2017

Breitbart London has issued an apology after posting a picture of German footballer Lukas Podolski on an article about human trafficking gangs. The jet-ski photo was actually snapped during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Lukas Podolski on a jet ski in off the coast of Santo Andre, Brazil in 2014
Image: picture alliance/DFB/dpa/M. Gilliar

A lawyer representing German footballer Lukas Podolski said he would take the right wing news site Breitbart to court after it posted an article about human traffickers in Spain with a picture of the World Cup champion riding a jet-ski. 

The article, published on Friday by Breitbart London, was entitled "Spanish Police Crack Gang Moving Migrants on Jet-Skis." It discussed a group of smugglers who charged refugees 5,000 euros ($5,900) to bring them from Morocco to Spain via jet-ski.

The article's main image included a picture of a smiling Podolski flashing a peace sign on board a jet-ski with another man. The picture, which showed Podolski wearing the German national team kit underneath his life jacket, was taken in 2014 during the World Cup in Brazil.

Podolski 'not being human trafficked'

On Sunday, Breitbart switched out the picture after the original post sparked outrage, and more than a few jokes, on social media.

The anti-immigration website also posted an apology at the bottom of the article. "Breitbart London wishes to apologize to Mr. Podolski. There is no evidence Mr. Podolski is either a migrant gang member, nor being human trafficked," the editor's note read.

The apology "isn't enough for us," Podolski's lawyer Simon Bergmann told Germany's EPD news agency on Monday. He said he would take legal action against Breitbart on behalf of the 32-year-old footballer. 

"Our goal is also be sure there will not be a violation of his rights in the future," Bergmann said. 

Germany's Foreign Ministry made fun of Breitbart's mistake on Monday, posting the jet ski photograph under a Facebook post announcing an upcoming open house at the ministry. 

Podolski currently plays in the Japanese J-League for Vissel Kobe.

Read more: Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon leaves the White House

Founded in 2007 in the US by Andrew Breitbart, Breitbart is known for running conspiracy theories and sensational headlines on Islam and refugees.

cw/bk (dpa, SID)