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'Wow, are you serious?' - Ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Lehmann in racism storm after 'token black guy' WhatsApp sent to Aogo

20:15 GMT+3 05/05/2021
Jens Lehmann Dennis Aogo
The former Germany international has issued an apology to his compatriot after sending him a message with racial connotations

Ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is facing accusations of racism after referring to Dennis Aogo as a "token black guy" in a WhatsApp text message.

Former Hamburg and Schalke left-back Aogo has served as a pundit for Sky Germany since hanging up his boots last year, and was back in the studio covering Manchester City's Champions League semi-final clash with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

Aogo revealed after the game, which City won 2-0 to progress to the final, that he had received an offensive message from Lehmann relating to the colour of his skin that was meant for someone else.

What happened?

Aogo, who won 12 caps for Germany at the height of his career, posted a screenshot of Lehmann's text on his Instagram story, which read: "Is Dennis actually your token black guy?"

The 34-year-old also tagged his compatriot in the post with the caption: "WOW, are you serious? This message wasn't supposed to go to me I guess."

Hertha BSC have since announced that Lehmann will no longer be a part of the supervisory board at the Bundesliga club. 

President Werner Gegenbauer said: "Such statements in no way correspond to the values that Hertha BSC stands for and actively advocates. Hertha BSC distances itself from any form of racism."

Lehmann's apology

Lehmann issued a private apology to Aogo before attempting to clarify his comments during an interview with German publication BILD on Wednesday morning.

"I have already spoken to Dennis on the phone and asked him to forgive me if my statement came across as disrespectful," he said. "It was not meant that way at all, but in a positive way. As a Sky expert, he is knowledgeable and very strong in his appearance - and therefore also increases the quota.

"That's what I meant to say but it was unfortunate of me to put it. Since the WhatsApp went out from my phone, I take responsibility for it. It was a private message."

Aogo issues further statement

The former left-back confirmed he had received Lehmann's response with another statement to social media on Wednesday evening, adding that he had accepted the former Germany shotstopper's apology.

“So unfortunately I have to get down to it," he wrote. "I want to quickly say something about the incident yesterday with Jens Lehmann, that’s to say I want to make a statement on the subject.

“I’ve talked with him on the phone, actually twice already today. I want to say officially here that I accept his apology. I didn’t like what he wrote. I also didn’t like his wording. I also found it somewhat disrespectful as you don’t write a message like that regardless of who it was addressed to.

"Nevertheless I want to say that every person makes mistakes. Every person deserves a second chance.”

Lehmann's playing career

Lehmann cemented a standing as one of the top German goalkeepers of his generation over the course of his 24-year career in European football, with spells at Schalke, Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Stuttgart.

He won seven trophies in total, including one Premier League title with the Gunners as part of their 2003-04 'Invincibles' squad.

Lehmann made 61 appearances for his country too, earning a runners' up medal at both the 2002 World Cup and 2008 European Championship.

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