A German football coach who resigned over allegations that he forged his vaccine certificate has drawn condemnation and derision after it emerged he attended a carnival party this month that was exclusive to those who had got the jab or recovered from the virus.
Markus Anfang on Saturday morning announced his resignation as the head coach of German second division club Werder Bremen, after the state prosecutor in the northern city revealed there were doubts about the authenticity of the document supposedly proving the 47-year-old had received two doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.
The coach, who had joined Bremen in mid-June after stints at Kiel, Cologne and Darmstadt, cited “the extremely stressful situation” for his club, team and family, but did not confess to having faked the documents.
On Monday, the state prosecutor for the first time published details about the inconsistencies around Anfang’s vaccine certificate.
When Anfang joined Werder Bremen in the summer, he said he had not yet had the chance to be vaccinated but would soon do so. In August, the club checked on his vaccination status after one of the players tested positive for Covid, and told him to quarantine after it emerged he had not yet received a jab.
Yet when another Bremen player tested positive in November, Anfang was suddenly able to brandish a certificate supposedly proving he had been vaccinated twice – first in April and then in June.
The location and timing in the document aroused suspicion – Anfang claimed to have been vaccinated with his first dose in Cologne on the same day his then club Darmstadt played a match in Würzburg, some 300km south-east of the city.
The batch number on the certificate also could not be matched to the central database, and the vaccination centre in Cologne said it had no records of Anfang’s visit, senior public prosecutor Frank Passade told Werder Bremen news portal DeichStube.
Anfang, whose assistant coach Florian Junge has also stepped down over similar questions relating to his vaccine certificate, could face a fine for forgery of official documents, as well as the loss of his coaching licence.
Shortly after the Bremen coach’s resignation on Saturday morning, football fans reacted with mockery: at that afternoon’s match against Schalke 04, visiting supporters chanted “Markus Anfang no longer has a vaccine pass” to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s song “Heaven is a place on earth”.
However, the mood changed on Monday when several German media outlets published pictures showing Anfang at a carnival party on 11 November wearing a chef’s costume. In keeping with new restrictions in several regions around Germany, the Cologne carnival event was held under so-called “2G” rules, meaning only those who have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus can attend.
“His visit to the carnival in the middle of the pandemic is absolutely irresponsible”, wrote tabloid Bild. “It doesn’t get more brazen that that, Mr Anfang!”
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