Jens Lehmann, a former Arsenal goalkeeper, has been fired by Hertha Berlin after sending a racist WhatsApp message to fellow pundit Dennis Aogo.
Aogo now works as a pundit for Sky Germany after retiring from football in the summer after a short spell with Hannover 96. During his international career, he also won 12 caps for Germany.
Before Sky Germany covered Manchester City vs. Paris Saint-Germain, on whom Aogo played, Lehmann sent the pundit a WhatsApp message, most definitely for someone else, asking if he was the broadcaster’s “token black man.”
“Ist denn eigentlich euer qotenschwarzer? [sic]” read his letter. That is, “Is Dennis practically your token black guy?”
On Instagram, Aogo posted a screenshot of the conversation with the caption: “Is this for real? The message was most likely not intended for me.”
The screenshot was posted late Tuesday evening, after the game, by the former Schalke and Hamburger SV left-back/midfielder.
Lehmann apologized on Twitter on Wednesday morning.
He stated: “In a private message sent from my phone to Dennis Aogo, an impression was created for which I apologized during our conversation. As a former national player, he is very knowledgeable, has a great presence, and brings in a lot of money at Sky Quote.”
He reiterated his apology in a statement to Bild and claimed to have phoned Aogo to apologise. He said: “Sie war überhaupt nicht so gemeint, sondern positiv. Da er als Sky-Experte fachkundig ist und in seinem Auftreten sehr stark. Und deshalb auch die Quote erhöht. Das wollte ich damit sagen, aber war von mir unglücklich ausgedrückt.” Er nehme “die Verantwortung dafür.”
This translates to: “I’ve already phoned Dennis and asked him for forgiveness if what I said came over as disrespectful. It was not meant that way at all, it was meant positively. Because he is very knowledgeable and strong in his appearances as a Sky expert. And so he has increased the ratings. That’s what I wanted to say, but I expressed it badly.”
Lehmann, who retired from boxing in 2011, now works as a pundit and has also done work for Sky Germany. He became a member of Hertha BSC’s supervisory board last year.
Lehmann was stripped of his duties at the club, according to SportBild.