A row has erupted between Mo Farah and the German police that has highlighted the frustrations of many people from minority ethnic backgrounds at what they feel is unspoken racial bias.
Farah claimed on Tuesday that he was racially harassed while travelling though Munich airport. He posted a video of the altercation with a German police officer on his Instagram account and later made a formal complaint to the airport and the police.
On Wednesday, Germany’s federal police hit back, saying their officer was “properly carrying out his duty” and that the video showed no “indication of racial harassment”.
The four-time Olympic champion was on his way from the UK to Ethiopia on Monday to complete his final training block ahead of the London Marathon next month. His journey took him via Germany on Tuesday.
Farah posted footage of the exchange online with the caption: “Sad to see racial harassment in this day and age. 2018…!!!! #airport #germany.”
He gave a running commentary as he was pushed towards the gate by a police officer, claiming it was “pure harassment”, though there was no evidence of any racial abuse in the 47-second clip.
A spokesperson for Farah said: “Mo felt that the incident was racially motivated and that he was unfairly treated by the airport security staff.”
“It seemed that Sir Mo Farah did not agree with this passenger security check performed on him and blamed this check a racist measure. Obviously, he was very upset,” said a federal police spokesperson.
The police described the measure as routine and said their officer tried to calm Farah down, before asking him to move on. He refused and began filming, which police said was banned in the security area.
“Sir Mo Farah got more and more upset. He continued arguing and blaming security staff and the federal police officer being racists.”
The spokesperson added that the officer “slightly touched [Farah] and tried to direct him away from the security check area … the federal police officer was properly carrying out his duty. I cannot see any indication of racial harassment by the federal police officer at all”.
People of many minority ethnic backgrounds have complained of feeling they are racially profiled while flying, with some claiming they are singled out – though not with an explicit reason related to their race or religion given.