LONDON: German pundit Sandro Wagner mocked the Qatari national dress, calling the thobes “bathrobes” on Sunday while commentating on the World Cup match between Spain and Germany, a remark Twitter users found to be “racist.”
Wagner apologized on Monday, describing his disparaging remark as “ill-considered” in a tweet shared by ZDF on Monday, which came after the German TV channel faced backlash from social media users.
“It was an ill-considered saying with an inappropriate remark that I would be better off not saying. If anyone felt offended — sorry, that was zero point, zero my intention,” the former Germany striker said in the tweet.
Wagner, 35, said in the 79th minute of the Monday evening game: “I thought before that the whole corner (of the stadium) was full of German fans. Then I realized it was the Qatari bathrobes.”
In his comment, Wagner was referring to the thobe, a garment worn in many parts of the world, including the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East and North Africa.
ZDF commented on Wagner’s demeanor, saying his remark “occurred during an emotional phase of the game” and confirming that it was unacceptable: “He’s not permitted (to say that). We’ll talk about it.”
The German broadcasting company said Wagner will face no further consequences, confirming he will be commentating Wednesday’s match between Poland and Argentina.
People expressed frustration over Wagner’s “racist” remark. One Twitter user said, “This World Cup has put European racism under a spotlight where it can’t hide,” while another commented that “the only reason Sandro Wagner still has a job is because ZDF is just as racist as Wagner.”