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German minister Habeck: Nation deserves to 'reward' itself at Euros

Robert Habeck (L), German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, sits on the government bench in the plenary session of the Bundestag during the debate on trade and foreign trade relations in the EU. Sabina Crisan/dpa
Robert Habeck (L), German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, sits on the government bench in the plenary session of the Bundestag during the debate on trade and foreign trade relations in the EU. Sabina Crisan/dpa

German Economics Minister Robert Habeck said that the Euro 2024 in Germany is a moment for the nation to "reward" itself after "four very difficult years."

"Germany is ready. (The Euro 2024) It's a moment to reward ourselves and look ahead. We've had four really difficult years in Germany. Covid-19, the energy and economic crisis caused by the Russian war (against Ukraine)," Habeck told the Kicker sports magazine in an interview.

"The tournament is taking place at a time in which, economically speaking, we have to say: We still have many challenges, but we've got the biggest challenges of the last two years under control," he said.

He added that the country deserves to have "four great weeks" during the Euros and that he hope people will be happy again "whether that triggers 0.1% more (economic) growth or now."

Habeck also criticized the result of controversial survey conducted shortly before the tournament, according to which one in five Germans would prefer to see more white players in the Germany national team.

"How must someone feel when they give everything for their country and are still told that they don't belong here because they have the wrong skin colour? That is called racism, and far too many people experience it in their everyday lives," he said.

In the survey conducted by Infratest dimap on behalf of broadcasters WDR for the "Unity and Justice and Diversity" documentary, 21% of respondents said that they would prefer to see more white players the Germany national team.

Germany's 26-man squad for the Euros includes a number of players with a migratory background.

The survey was commissioned because during filming for the documentary, the producers were faced with racist statements about the national team, WDR has previously explained.