Merkel wants taboos broken after Enke's suicide

19th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Merkel: "We can help to change the social climate so that taboos like depression, and also issues like homosexuality, are no longer impossible to discuss."

Berlin -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday she wanted to see an end to taboos in football after the tragic suicide of national goalkeeper Robert Enke, who killed himself after suffering depression.

"We must send a clear signal," Merkel told German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, in its edition to appear on Thursday.

"We can help to change the social climate so that taboos like depression, and also issues like homosexuality, are no longer impossible to discuss.

"If someone is affected by either issue, they should be able to talk about it in peace," she added.

Enke, 32, was set to travel with the Germany squad to South Africa for next year's World Cup, but threw himself under a train on Tuesday, November 10. Tens of thousands of fans attended a memorial service in Hanover last Sunday.

As a mark of respect, Germany cancelled last Saturday's friendly international against Chile, but were due to play the Ivory Coast on Wednesday night.

The popular star had suffered from depression since 2003, and his suicide stunned fans across football-mad Germany and threw the subject of depression into the public view.

"Robert Enke is a famous example of someone who suffered from a condition which many people fear. We have the chance to change that," said Merkel.

The German Football Federation (DFB) is planning a special memorial match between Enke's club Hanover 96 and the full Germany squad in early January 2010 with the proceeds going to a charity for people with depression.

Meanwhile, according to German mass circulation daily Bild, DFB president Theo Zwanziger will create a foundation in Enke's memory.

The goalkeeper's number one shirt will be placed on the German bench on Wednesday.

The German squad has also written an open letter to the goalkeeper which has appeared on the DFB website and Wednesday's game will be filled with reminders of Enke, who won the last of his eight caps in August.

"It will be not easy this evening to pull on football boots and run out onto the pitch to play 90 minutes of the game which you loved so much," the squad said.

"Why couldn't we help you? And why didn't you want to tell us of your problems?

"It is a painful thought for us that you must have felt so lonely and alone, even when you were together with us."

AFP/Expatica

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