Former Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has been dismissed from the supervisory board of Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin after making a jibe about a TV pundit’s race via WhatsApp, it was confirmed Wednesday.
Lehmann had sat on the Hertha Berlin supervisory board as an adviser to the club’s major shareholder Lars Windhorst, boss of Tennor Holding.
“We have terminated the consultancy contract with Jens Lehmann. This also ends his activity on the supervisory board of Hertha Berlin,” a Tennor Holding spokesman told AFP subsidiary SID.
The 51-year-old, a member of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ in the 2003–04 season, was shown the door by Hertha after inadvertently sending a WhatsApp message to former Germany defender Dennis Aogo, whose father is Nigerian.
The 34-year-old Aogo appeared as a pundit during the Champions League semi-finals for Sky on Tuesday and in the WhatsApp message sent to Aogo, Lehmann asked “Is Dennis actually your token black guy?”
Aogo took a screen shot of the message and posted to his 81,000 followers on Instagram with the caption “WOW, are you serious? @jenslehmannofficial The message was probably not meant for me!!!”
Before news of his dismissal at Hertha, Lehmann told German daily Bild that he phoned Aogo to apologise and “asked his forgiveness if my statement came across as disrespectful.
“It wasn’t meant that way at all. It was positive, because he is competent as a Sky expert and has a very strong demeanour.
“Since the WhatsApp was sent from my mobile phone, I take responsibility for it. It was a private message.”
Lehmann did not say who his message was intended for.
Lehmann succeeded Jurgen Klinsmann on Hertha’s supervisory board in early May last year.
Hertha Berlin president Werner Gegenbauer welcomed the club’s decision.
“Hertha Berlin distances itself from any form of racism. We therefore welcome the step taken by Tennor Holding,” he said.