World Cup Racism: Neo-Nazi Party's Legal Problems Grow

The list of legal problems for the far-right party NPD just keeps getting longer. Next week, party chairman Udo Voigt will face charges for racist propaganda he distributed during the 2006 World Cup in Germany -- aimed at one of Germany's own players.

Udo Voigt, head of the neo-Nazi party NPD, has been charged for inciting racial hatred.
DDP

Udo Voigt, head of the neo-Nazi party NPD, has been charged for inciting racial hatred.

By all accounts, the 2006 World Cup soccer championships in Germany were a rousing success. Millions from around the world got to know the country as a fun place to party rather than the dull, orderly place of cliché. This week, though, it is becoming clear that the event's glow didn't rub off on everyone. Indeed, the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) is landing in court as a result.

According to a report in the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel, Udo Voigt, head the NPD, and two further senior party members -- press spokesman Klaus Beier and board member Frank Schwerdt -- are to be charged next week by Berlin's public prosecutor for incitement and defamation, stemming from World Cup propaganda distributed by the party. Ahead of the World Cup, the NPD published and circulated a brochure entitled "White! Not just the jersey color! For a real national team." The German national team traditionally wears white, but the jersey used to decorate the brochure was number 25 -- the number of national-team player Patrick Owomoyela. The Hamburg-born defensive back is the son Nigerian and German parents.

At the time, Owomoyela obtained a preliminary injunction and 70,000 copies of the flyer were confiscated. He and the German Bundesliga also pressed charges. The NPD then published a second World Cup guide which, according to investigators was equally insulting to Owomoyela. Among the racist material to be presented to the court next week is an image in which the player is called "Kunta Kinte" in reference to the slave character in Alex Haley's novel "Roots."

This is the most recent in a series of charges against Germany's biggest far right party. Two weeks ago, party treasurer Erwin Kemna was arrested for the embezzlement of €627,000 ($930,000), and last September, Hamburg party chair Jürgen Rieger was charged with Holocaust denial. And although NPD chairman Jens Pühse, who had been distributing extreme right CDs, was acquitted of incitement of hatred charges last March, the Federal Court of Justice indicated on Thursday that the decision may be reversed.

Last week, the district court of Neuruppin also filed charges against three right-wing extremists for racist propaganda they produced leading up to the World Cup, in which national-team player Gerald Asamoah, who is also black, was defamed.

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