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Personal statement from Heiko Vogel

Though the actual incident took place just under two months ago, comments made by Borussia's U23s coach Heiko Vogel during the Regionalliga match against Bergisch Gladbach have been making waves again over the past few days. Following this, Borussia and Heiko Vogel would like to take the opportunity to make a statement regarding the incident here.

On 30th January, Heiko Vogel was sent off in a Regionalliga match after protesting the decisions made by the referee in the game. The subsequent hearing before the West German Football Association (WDFV) focused on a discriminatory statement made by Vogel to a female assistant referee in the match following his sending off. The WDFV imposed a punishment of a two-match ban (which has already been served) and a fine of €1,500 on the U23s coach, with Borussia imposing an additional club fine. During the WDFV hearing, Heiko Vogel offered to lead several training sessions for Borussia’s women’s teams alongside his personal apology. This was included in writing as a condition in the final verdict.

The proposed training sessions with the women’s teams were perceived by some to have been part of the punishment and not as a means of reparation, as was intended. As this is understandable, it is important for Heiko Vogel to explain his actual intentions behind the proposal. In this short interview, he has been given the chance to express himself in his own words.

Heiko, although the verdict from the hearing has been imposed and you have now served your ban, the discussion on the matter has not subsided. What are your thoughts on the ongoing debate surrounding the matter?

Heiko Vogel: First of all, I would like to say that I regret my behaviour very much. Following my sending off, I had an emotional outburst in which I said that women don’t belong on a football pitch. It was stupid, unsportsmanlike, and discriminatory. My statement is absolutely unjustifiable, and I would like to make it clear that it does not reflect my personal attitude. I have apologised for it to the people involved and I would also like to take this opportunity to apologise to all girls and all women involved in football and refereeing.

Do you understand the fierce criticism of some who perceive your offer of holding training sessions with the women’s teams as part of the punishment and not as a means of apology?

Heiko Vogel: Yes, I do understand this criticism. To term something like that as a punishment would send a message that is completely wrong. It was never my intention to propose this as a part of any form of punishment. I put it forwards as a suggestion to show that I wanted to apologise to the girls and women playing football at Borussia. I wanted to show them that I value women’s football and that I see it as being on the same level as men’s football. Unfortunately, my proposal came across totally wrong. My intention was always to follow up my verbal apology with action.

Will the proposed training sessions still go ahead?

Heiko Vogel: It’s something that I would very much like to do, as it is very important to me that I am able to apologise to all the female players. Among footballers, I know that the best way of doing that is to work together out on the pitch. But this will only go ahead if the players want to take part.

The WDFV was also criticised for not imposing a punishment for discriminatory behaviour and only for unsportsmanlike conduct. What is your view on that?

Heiko Vogel: I cannot judge that, especially since there is no written explanation of the verdict reached by the WDFV. At the hearing, the court made it very clear that it considered my behaviour to have been discriminatory and this was absolutely correct, as my conduct was not just unsportsmanlike, but also sexist. I would like to reiterate that this will never happen again and would like to apologise again to all of the people I have hurt with my actions.


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