Manchester United European scout Torben Aakjaer has been terminated for allegedly posting xenophobic and Islamophobic messages on Facebook. It turns out, you shouldn’t do that. It’s also fair to say that if you can’t go anonymous with your derogatory remarks about entire groups of people, you probably shouldn’t be responsible for scouting people that likely include significant numbers of people you regularly disparage.
The Guardian reports that Aakjaer, who has been a United scout since 2011, was the author of these fine observations (since deleted) on Facebook, among others:
- On a newspaper story about someone pouring water over a beggar’s head in Copenhagen: “You must be too integrated in the red Copenhagen mafia if you don’t think all that eastern Europe dirt and sh.. needs a kick in the behind over the border. Yes, in cases like this I do generalize. This is not a hard-working Polish guy on a building site or a Czech taxi driver. This is hardcore gypsies from Romania, Bulgaria etc. And here no mercy should be shown. I don’t approve of violence but a glass of water hurts nobody.”
- On mosques in Denmark: “If just a single krone of public money is invested in this nonsense they better do as they are told. Or else you simply have to close down this conspiracy-potential prayer-shop.”
- On a photograph of Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt falling over: “Phew, just thought that this crazy lady had converted into this Islam nonsense and was on her way down on her knees to mumble a prayer. But she clearly just fell drunk – fair enough.”
When The Guardian confronted Aakjaer about his comments, he conjured up a who’s who of excuses, notably:
- Denying using any racist or aggressive terms, in particular “dirt and shit” when referring to eastern Europeans.
- Claiming a possible hacking by “someone who doesn’t like me or Manchester United.”
- Saying his comments were “taken out of context” and possibly mistranslated.
- Saying, “I’ve never written anything racist and it doesn’t sound like me. I am not racist at all and I am shocked. When I hear this it sends a different message of the person I am.”
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It’s unclear whether Aakjaer’s scouting reports from Eastern Europe were simply a list of players followed by the following note: “Stay out of my country.”
It’s interesting to think of the ramifications of a European scout, who doesn’t seem particularly fond of Muslims or Eastern Europeans, scouring Mother Europe for talent. Would such a scout, whether consciously or unconsciously, shy away from players of Eastern European or Muslim backgrounds? There are a lot of “those people” playing soccer in Europe. It’s a fair question.
United has since released a statement:
“The club received the evidence from the Guardian, launched an immediate investigation into the matter and has terminated our association with Mr. Aakjaer. Manchester United is an inclusive organisation and will not tolerate this sort of behaviour.”
There’s been no word as to who will replace Aakjaer on Facebook.