Greenland’s national football team coach, a man of Eritrean origin, has slammed his firing as “unjustified” and having “racist motives”, local media reported on Friday.
Tekle Ghebrelul has been accused of assaulting a minor, which he denies and calls “a pretext” to fire him in order to silence his criticism against the “hostility” against him in the North Atlantic autonomous Danish territory, which he moved to 14 years ago, according to the daily Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq.
“Tekle Ghebrelul is shocked by the firing and incredibly disappointed that he has not had the opportunity to explain the many racism” incidents he went through, the paper added.
The president of the Football Federation of Greenland (GBU) John Thorsen, on Thursday said that Ghebrelul was fired because a majority of the board was “tired of all the trouble surrounding the national coach”, according to Sermitsiaq.
“I’m told I’ve beaten or shaken a child. But where are the children’s parents? I have never received any concrete questions from the parents,” Ghebrelul told Sermitsiaq.
“I’m shocked that (they have) fired me on those grounds without first hearing my version of the accusations against me,” he added.
Ghebrelul, who also coached the Nuuk B-67 club, was racially abused by spectators during the semi-finals of the Futsal National Championship, according to public television KNR.
“Go back where you come from, you have nothing to do in Greenland,” the spectators had said, according to KNR.
In July, a message was circulated on Snapchat, portraying Ghebrelul as a monkey eating a banana.
A player from a competing team who created that message was immediately axed by the federation.
“Racism is unsportsmanlike and against the values of the federation, and these are the reasons why we reacted immediately,” John Thorsen told Sermitsiaq.
Contacted by AFP, neither Ghebrelul nor the federation was immediately available for comment on Friday.