Ever since his arrival in Munich, Leon Goretzka has made his mark on the team. The young midfielder has grown rapidly as a player and was a crucial part of the team that won the continental treble last season. His performances have not slowed down in the following season, either.
Not only has Goretzka been involved in activities on the field, but he has also been heavily involved in social work outside of football as well. For one thing, he and Bayern Munich teammate Joshua Kimmich kick-started (no pun intended) the “We Kick Corona” campaign in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, raising millions of euros to help medical facilities, charities, and more.
Goretzka has also been an activist against hate crime, visiting the Dachau Holocaust memorial on his days off, and even meeting Holocaust survivor Margot Friedlander.
About his meeting with Friedlander, Goretzka told Welt am Sonntag that ‘it was the kind of moment that makes you literally freeze.’ His belief that such an atrocity like the Holocaust should never happen again was only cemented by this meeting. “That’s her mission, that’s why she fights every day,” he said.
Likewise, Goretzka has made his disapproval of Germany’s far right movements very clear, but unfortunately, that outspokenness has earned him the ire of supporters of the far right party Alternative fur Deutschland(AfD), a party infamously known for supporting the revitalization of German nationalistic ideas, many of which are linked to Nazism. Goretzka, however, has remained unfazed.
“You have to fight against this in order to improve something,” he said. “We must make it clear to everyone that we live in a democracy that nothing and no one can destroy.”
He went on to describe his contempt for the AfD, saying that: “When a party is supported and led by Holocaust revisionists and Corona deniers, then they are unmasking themselves.” He even used some strong language to condemn the AfD: “It has become clear, particularly during the Corona crisis, what kind of party this is. For me, it’s not an alternative, but in fact a disgrace for Germany.”
Goretzka himself does not look to be holding back in making his beliefs known, and has coolly acknowledged the hateful comments that the AfD supporters have sent him. “Hate speech actually serves only to make me want to position myself even more clearly,” he said.
But even so, such comments can be hurtful, as footballers like Goretzka are still only human. So what exactly fuels this urge to express himself, even in the midst of hate? Goretzka called upon a true legend of German football to support his thoughts. “Fritz Walter said that all German national team players are foreign ministers in shorts,” he said. “I like that expression. We footballers should use the attention we get to raise awareness of subjects like this.”
This is a move that his team can also get behind. Bayern Munich was a Jewish club in the middle of the Third Reich, and was abused heavily for it, to the point that then-president and legend Kurt Landauer was forced into exile (thankfully, he returned after the Nazis’ downfall). Since then, Bayern has stood for equal rights for all, and against any form of discrimination, whether that be over gender, race, nationality, or anything else. One of their recent campaigns, “Rot gegen Rassismus” is a prime example of Bayern’s activism in these areas.
Goretzka has proven himself to be a physically strong player, and a mentally strong activist. In times like these, the football world could certainly use more people like him.
We are all challenged to ensure that one of the darkest chapters in human history does not repeat itself. It is a matter close to our hearts to help ensure that the culture of remembrance is upheld even in the corona pandemic. @AuschwitzMuseum @WeKickCorona https://t.co/MLuTArpJOI— Leon Goretzka (@leongoretzka_) August 13, 2020