Rüdiger’s treatment a damning representation of modern Germany | Jonathan Liew

Defender should be able to count on a nation behind him but far-right nationalism reflects society’s ingrained racism

Antonio Rüdiger was eight years old the first time he had to ask his father what the N-word meant, because the kids at school were using it. He remembers running over to an old white lady in his neighbourhood, offering to help carry her shopping bags, and seeing the look of pure terror in her eyes. He remembers growing up playing football on the concrete pitches of Berlin, and being told he didn’t belong there, to go back to Africa.

But these were the bad old days. The dark ages. A more benighted era of Germany society. And of course, Rüdiger is now a star of the German national team in a home European Championship, their best player in the 2-0 win over Denmark last Saturday and the key to Friday’s quarter-final against Spain. Times have changed. Attitudes, surely, have shifted.

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