Hertha Berlin sacked goalkeeping coach Zsolt Petry following comments he made in an interview regarding immigration and LGBTQ+ people.
Petry, who has spent six years with the Bundesliga club, was quoted as telling Magyar Nemzet that immigration in Europe was causing the “moral degradation” of a “Christian continent”.
He also questioned why RB Leipzig and Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi had spoken publicly in support of LGBTQ+ rights, saying that, while entitled to express his views, “the majority of Hungarian society does not agree with Peter Gulacsi’s liberal opinion on ‘rainbow’ families”.
Hertha confirmed on Tuesday that Petry had been dismissed with immediate effect. Magyar Nemzet described it as “shocking” that the 54-year-old had been punished for a “political opinion”.
“Hertha BSC signed the Diversity Charta for German companies and actively promote values such as diversity and tolerance, because these values are important to us. The remarks made by Zsolt Petry as a club employee in the public eye do not respect these values,” the club said in a statement.
CEO Carsten Schmidt said: “Zsolt Petry’s work over the years at Hertha BSC has always been greatly appreciated. He was always open, tolerant and prepared to help. He never acted in a homophobic or xenophobic way.
“Even taking into account the finer details regarding the translation of his remarks, and the fact that several of Zsolt’s remarks from the interview were left out of the publication without consultation, we ultimately concluded that the remarks on the whole do not comply with Hertha BSC’s values. We thank Zsolt Petry for his work with the club and wish him all the best for the future.”
Petry stated: “I would like to stress that I am not homophobic or xenophobic. I deeply regret my comments about immigration politics and would like to apologise to all those seeking refuge here who I have insulted. I enjoyed working for Hertha BSC and respect their decision. I wish everyone at the club all the best for the future.”
Following the interview, Magyar Nemzet published a brief notice saying Petry had asked them to “express his position in a more nuanced way on certain issues”, stressing that he “respects the opinion of Peter Gulacsi to the maximum” and “did not discriminate” against LGBTQ+ families.
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