Radio Köln - An Interview With Felix Tamsut

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Radio Köln

An Interview With DW Journalist Felix Tamsut

Issues such as the refugee crisis, fighting sexism and fascism and supporting civil rights, fan groups are doing a great job in using the platform they get to promote political and social causes
— Felix Tamsut

Felix Tamsut wouldn't have been out of place in the 1960s, he is young, passionate, fiery and full of high ideals.  He has the type of moral compass that all good journalists should possess.  His commentary is full of a fighting spirit against the many injustices that still exist in the modern world.  On a daily basis his commentary tackles all forms of discrimination, including sexism, racism and homophobia.  

He is an inspiring young man and the world could do with more voices like that of Felix Tamsut.  

Football And The City sat down with him to discuss the impact that football can have on society and the forms of inequality that still exist within the game. 

FATC: Football is woven into the fabric of German society. How big a role do you feel the game can play in fighting various forms of discrimination in German daily life? 

FT: Massive. Active football fans in Germany have proved before that when they take a stand, it tends to matter. From issues such as the refugee crisis, fighting sexism and fascism and supporting civil rights, fan groups are doing a great job in using the platform they get to promote political and social causes, and I only think this trend will grow bigger in the coming years.

FATC: Why do you think in 2018, gay footballers still find it almost impossible to come out?

FT: It’s a matter of culture that football really needs to work hard on changing. I think we’re starting to move in the right direction, but there’s still so much work to be done in that area. I do believe that as progress is being made in society, football will eventually catch up.

FATC: You have tweeted & written a lot about sexism in the modern game. In England we have introduced more female pundits & commentators for the 2018 World Cup. The reaction has been positive overall & is helping to break down stigmas more quickly. Why is it in Germany, you still seem to have more of a problem with this in the game? Some of the World Cup adverts, particularly, seemed extremely sexist.

FT: I don’t necessarily think the problem is bigger in Germany than elsewhere, but I do think there’s lots of work to be done here. The funny thing is that those people who actually go to games and actively support their team know sexism is a thing of the past. Women are seen everywhere at football grounds across Germany’s leagues (female attendance around 35% in the Bundesliga, higher than the Premier League), and while the situation is far from perfect, so many fan groups have shown a clear stance against sexism, in some cases there were also ultras groups that were started by and for women at the terraces, so you can’t ignore it. It’s those people who sit at home, the so called armchair supporters that use fake profiles on social media and think their opinions are legitimate in 2018. I think ZDF did the right thing in standing behind Claudia Neumann and filing official complaints against the people that made those comments. 

When it comes to adverts, the logic is pretty simple. They won’t do it if it wasn’t selling. I think bringing it to the public helps in naming and shaming those businesses that think this stance is OK nowadays, and it will eventually bear fruit. Sexist adverts are still the exception and not the rule in Germany, and that’s good. 

FATC:  For all of the negatives, I am a huge admirer of German football culture. 50+1, ticket prices & free match-day travel being high amongst the reasons. For our English readers could you explain a little of what the magic is - and why Germany hasn't succumbed to treating fans purely as consumers of a product as we have in England?

FT: I think it’s pretty simple to explain. German football is what it is today thanks to one thing only: Fan involvement. Clubs in Germany are for the most part perceived as regional institutes, which spurs them on to be involved in the community and to attract more members. Those members, in turn, pay yearly fees and keep the club strong. Once the average fan is involved in the decision making process through fan congregations and the different votes over certain issues, the sense of being part of a club is likelier to remain, unlike clubs in England that are basically controlled by billionaires that have nothing to do with the community they’re allegedly representing.

FATC:  Lastly, why do you think so many lazy stereotypes remain about German football? About it being dull, defensive & functional in spite of having some of the most original and free-thinking players in history. Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner, Manuel Neuer & Thomas Müller being notable examples.    

FT: I think most of those stereotypes still exist mostly due to the fact many people just don’t watch the Bundesliga on a regular basis. Also, many people catalogue German football as boring just to reinforce their own opinions on their favourite leagues (mostly the Premier League), it’s obviously not based on reality. 

Felix writes for DW. Follow him on Twitter to see his latest articles. 

Photo Credit: Philipp Böll/DW. Photo edit: FATC - all rights reserved.

J.S. Leatherbarrow