IMAGE: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was on a visit to Berlin this weekend. Photograph: Federico Gambarini/Pool via REUTERS
German Football Association (DFB) Vice President Hermann Winkler on Monday apologised for a social media post mocking the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to Berlin at the weekend.
Zelenskiy had talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday, with many parts of central Berlin locked down for security reasons during his visit.
It formed part of a whirlwind weekend tour of several key European allies to drum up military and financial support ahead of an expected major Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russian forces who invaded his country last year.
Winkler had complained about road closures and other security restrictions, saying “at least the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park is still standing for now”.
He said the city had shut down for the visit “of a former Ukrainian actor.” Zelenskiy was an actor prior to his election.
The Treptower park memorial is a monument to fallen Soviet soldiers in Germany during the World War Two.
Winkler, who has since deleted his post, apologised and said he also had a discussion with the DFB leadership on the matter.
“It (the post) was created in a very emotional situation for me at the memorial in the Treptower Park,” Winkler, who grew up in what was then East Germany, wrote on Facebook.
“I would not write it again in such a way. I apologise for that and for the irritation it caused.”
Winkler has been a vice president of the DFB, the world’s biggest single sports organisation with more than seven million members, since 2021.
He is in charge of youth football for the DFB and is also head of the Saxony Football Association. Germany will host the Euro 2024 competition.