BERLIN (AP) — Schalke fans staged a protest against chairman Clemens Tönnies before the 5-0 win over fourth-tier SV Drochtersen/Assel in the German Cup first round on Saturday.
Supporters suggested they no longer wanted him at the club as they held red cards and displayed a banner saying: “We’re showing Tönnies the red card”.
The 63-year-old Tönnies has been criticized since making comments widely described as racist at a public meeting on Aug. 1 when he campaigned against tax increases to fight climate change. He said it was better to fund power plants in Africa “then the Africans would stop cutting down trees, and they would stop making babies when it gets dark”.
Tönnies, Schalke chairman since 2001, apologized for the remarks and decided to step down for three months. But it has not stopped stinging criticism of the club, which said allegations of racism were “unsubstantiated” although claims of discrimination were “justified”.
New coach David Wagner said he had not discussed the furor in detail with his players.
“We spoke about the matter relatively briefly at the beginning of the week and then concentrated on the essentials, and that’s the sporting aspect,” Wagner said before his side booked its spot in the second round.
In other games, Augsburg and Mainz were knocked out by lower-league opponents. Augsburg lost 2-1 to fourth-tier SV Verl and third-division Kaiserslautern surprised Mainz 2-0.
Bayer Leverkusen progressed against fourth-tier Alemannia Aachen 4-1, while top-flight sides Freiburg and Fortuna Düsseldorf needed extra time to progress.
Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann saved two penalties in a shootout victory over Würzburger Kickers to get new coach Alfred Schreuder off to a winning start.
Peruvian veteran Claudio Pizarro scored twice as a substitute in Werder Bremen’s 6-1 rout of Atlas Delmenhorst in the late game.