The 25-year-old believes he must not take his position as a professional footballer for granted
Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka has opened up about the troubles of opposing right-wing politics in Germany, and has taken inspiration from those with a similar platform as his to help fight social injustice.
Goretzka explained that as a professional footballer, he has the ability to express his beliefs in a way that perhaps other occupations cannot.
The Germany international has come under the eye of the media lately after urging his Twitter followers to follow the official account of the Auschwitz concentration camp memorial.
The move came after Bayern supporters honoured a Jewish member of the club who fell victim to National Socialism, when they marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp during last month’s home match with Schalke.
“Both the fans and us players have a great responsibility in this regard,” Goretzka said in an exclusive interview with Goal and DAZN.
“[Former West Germany international] Fritz Walter once said that all national players are foreign ministers in shorts. I think the saying is very good. We players should use the great attention we get to raise awareness of such issues.
“I can use my reach to convey a certain attitude, optimally pass it on to young football fans and act as a role model.
“So I can do my part. I would call for other football professionals to do the same.”
Goretzka has not held back his views on non-football issues on social media, and has taken inspiration from others – both in and out of the sporting arena – to step forward.
“The feedback I received most intensively came from my direct environment and that was consistently positive,” he continued.
“But I generally have the feeling that society is happy when people from public life position themselves and are authentic.
“In social media it is part of the fact that you can get a sh*tstorm for something like that. How to deal with it is a matter of classification.
“You can see very quickly whether someone is really thinking and objectively criticising, or whether it’s just personal insults.
“In addition to Fritz Walter who I have already mentioned, all players who are involved in the no-to-racism campaigns are role models.
“Also, the captain of the US national team Megan Rapinoe. She has positioned herself very clearly on political and sociopolitical issues.
“I have certainly said a lot of crap in front of the camera, but not on this topic.”
The midfielder also shared his team-mate Jerome Boateng’s recent sentiment about the increase in racism in the country, but is grateful that some of the incidents are being tackled in a positive manner.
“The incidents are felt more often and I also thought, [like Boateng], that we were already further [ahead on combating racism] in Germany,” added Goretzka.
“This has prompted me to show more of a stance again and to publicly express my opinion.
“However, there have also been positive examples recently. When Leroy Kwadwo was racially insulted by the Wurzburger Kickers while playing at Preussen Munster, fans helped the police to find the perpetrator.
“In addition, there were cheers for the affected player in the stadium. This is a prime example of how to solve such a situation.
“It is important that such beautiful and important moments get attention. This creates a sense of community in which everyone realises that they are not alone in the fight against right-wing.”