Manchester United scout hits back at club over sacking

Torben Aakjaer’s contract terminated after series of racist and anti-islamist Facebook posts

Manchester United have sacked one of their European scouts, Torben Aakjaer, after a series of controversial Facebook posts. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Manchester United have sacked one of their European scouts, Torben Aakjaer, after a series of controversial Facebook posts. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

 

The former Manchester United scout Torben Aakjaer, who was sacked on Wednesday for making racially abusive comments, has hit back at the club over his exit. The Dane says he stands by his controversial postings on Facebook – in which he made derogatory remarks about eastern Europeans and Muslims – and claims he was sacked because the club couldn’t stomach the negative publicity.

United took the decision to sack Aakjaer, one of their scouts based in Copenhagen, after the Guardian alerted them to a stream of racially offensive comments on social media in which one mosque is described as a “conspiracy-potential prayer-shop”. His comments also indicate support for Denmark to close its borders and put “extra personnel on every crossover and exit so all that eastern Europe dirt and sh.. can be kept out”.

Initially, Aakjaer said he had been hacked by “someone who doesn’t like me or Manchester United” and that some of the postings had been “taken out of context” and possibly mistranslated. Yet despite deleting the messages from his Facebook account within minutes of being contacted, Aakjaer now says he was simply expressing his opinion and that United had been forced into acting because they did not want the negative publicity.

“I do understand if people are offended by that comment [calling Eastern Europeans dirt and sh..], but I think it’s just my statement to the article linked to. It’s not a racist comment. But I do understand Manchester United terminating my contract when they get it presented this way,” he told Danish paper BT.

“I have expressed my opinion and I have always protected my right to do so. Those things that have been said and written after my comments were published is not how I see myself. It’s been put forward as racist comments. If there was anything racist in my comments I’m sure Facebook would have deleted it or I would have been reported by people. But that has never happened.”

Asked why United had sacked him he said: “I don’t think they can live with the publicity about this. I recognise that some of my comments should have been put out better, but I do stand with the things I have written.”

Aakjaer had worked for United since 2011, having previously been at Hamburg, and was a regular visitor to United’s training ground to discuss potential signings. He is pictured on his Instagram page outside of Old Trafford and boasts of having lunch at Carrington with the likes of Robin van Persie and former captain Nemanja Vidic.

His Facebook account contained a message of support for the right-wing Dansk Folkeparti’s views about border control and a photograph of six pigs with a caption: “It’s time to deploy our secret weapons against Islamists”.

There was also a post stating Denmark should move out immigrants: “If they are taking a Danish job then out, but primarily the barriers should be closed for criminal jerks and beggars and likewise from Romania, Bulgaria etc.”

Another post appeared to take pleasure from a newspaper story of someone pouring water over a beggar’s head in the Danish capital. When one user questioned Aakjaer’s stance, they were told: “You must be too integrated in the red Copenhagen mafia if you don’t think all that eastern Europe dirt and sh.. needs a kick in the behind over the border. Yes, in cases like this I do generalise. This is not a hard-working Polish guy on a building site or a Czech taxi driver. This is hardcore gypsies from Romania, Bulgaria etc. And here no mercy should be shown. I don’t approve of violence but a glass of water hurts nobody.”

There are other posts stating Denmark should move out immigrants, while he was also asked to explain a reference about the story of a butcher who had been sent to prison for selling pig meat to Muslims for years – “So the wise one fools the less clever” – and a separate post in which he appears to mock that culture again.

Another photograph shows the Danish prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, falling over. “Phew, just thought that this crazy lady had converted into this Islam nonsense and was on her way down on her knees to mumble a prayer. But she clearly just fell drunk – fair enough.”

Aakjaer told the Guardian on Wednesday he denied “1,000%” that he was responsible for all of the comments and denied posting the photograph of the pigs or mocking Islam.

Yet asked about the image of Thorning-Schmidt and calling Islam “nonsense” he told BT: “It was my intention to be provocative, not racist. I don’t see it as racist comment. I accept other people’s religion and beliefs.”

(Guardian service)

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