— Sports

Hertha fires goalkeeping coach Petry for xenophobic comments

BERLIN (AP) – Hertha Berlin has fired goalkeeping coach Zsolt Petry to make homophobic and xenophobic comments in an interview published by the Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet.

The Bundesliga club said Tuesday that it is committed to values of diversity and tolerance, and “these are not found in the statements of Zsolt Petry, which he made public as an employee of Hertha BSC.”

In the interview published Monday, Petry criticized Hungary goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi, who plays for Hertha’s league rival Leipzig, supporting gay marriage and defending LGBT rights. “I don’t know what might have caused Péter to stand up for homosexuals, transvestites, and people with other gender identities,” Petry said in the comments reported by Magyar Nemzet. “I sure wouldn’t have stirred up tempers in his place.” Petry said the “majority of Hungarian society does not agree with Péter Gulácsi’s liberal opinion on rainbow families.”

The former Hungary goalkeeper, 54, also criticized Europe’s migration policies.

“I cannot understand how Europe can morally sink as deeply as it is now. Immigration policy for me is a manifestation of moral decline,” Petry said. “Europe is a Christian continent. I am reluctant to watch the moral degradation sweeping across the continent.” In a statement Tuesday, Hertha chairman Carsten Schmidt said that Petry’s work was valued at the club and that he had never expressed homophobic or xenophobic comments before. Still, his words to Magyar Nemzet ran against the club’s values.

Petry, who has been with Hertha since 2015, told the club website, “I want to emphasize that I am neither homophobic nor xenophobic. I very much regret my statement on immigration policy and would like to apologize to all the people who seek refuge with us and whom I’ve offended.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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