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Atlas FC (mis)quote Nazi reichsminister Joseph Goebbels in support of VAR call

Using the words of a Nazi to prove your point is never a good look.

It’s one thing for a soccer club to give a spirited defense on social media of a controversial offsides call that gave their team a win, but it’s another to use Joseph Goebbels to make your point. Most official Twitter accounts in fútbolandia don’t cite Nazis when talking about the one-goal victory they just earned on the road. 

And yet that’s exactly what happened this morning when Atlas FC posted a tweet that addressed a Video Assisted Referee (VAR) decision last night that overturned a late goal by New York City FC by taking more than six minutes to rule that a player was offside in a Leagues Cup group stage game. NYCFC went on the lose that match 0-1.

The tweet cited a quote attributed to Goebbels, reichsminister of propaganda under Adolf Hitler and one of the architects of Nazism, to silence the fans and pundits who didn’t agree with a refereeing call that all but sealed the Atlas win.

UPDATE: The tweet linked below was deleted; you can find a screenshot at the end of this post.

It should be pointed out that the phrase Atlas puts in quotes is seemingly something that Goebbels never said. 

No matter. Is this a masterful if tasteless example of trolling? The tweet had 4.3 million views as of the publication of this article — as the saying goes, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” 

Here is the tweet in the original Spanish, and translated into English:

Esta toma es más clara que el agua, el fuera de lugar sucede en la primera jugada. Es lamentable como “influencers” y gente de medios “analistas” manipulen generando ideas de “supuestas ayudas”, pero recordando lo que dijo Goebbels, Ministro Nazi de información (mano derecha de Hitler) que lo aplican a la perfección: “miente, miente, miente que algo quedará, cuanto más grande sea una mentira más gente la creerá”.

This frame is crystal clear, the offside happens on the first play. It’s sad how “influencers” and media people “analysts” manipulate by generating ideas of “supposed help”, but remember what Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Information (Hitler’s right-hand man) said as it applies perfectly: “lie, lie, lie so that it stays, because the bigger the lie the more people will believe it”.

But this tweet maybe strains that cliché. To address that, here are three brief points.

1. Quoting Goebbels is never a good look

First, it’s hard to understate the inappropriateness of this tweet. It’s more than a flippant reference to a quote attributed to the propagandist, it’s a carefully constructed line of reasoning — even if the quote itself is sketchy, and likely never spoken by Goebbels. This tweet means what it says.

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2. Wrong audience

Second, the NYCFC pictured in the tweet is a team that represents the city with the largest Jewish population in the world. The religious, ethnic, cultural, and national diversity of New York is one of the defining characteristics of a city that has welcomed – and continues to welcome – people who are forced to emigrate because the places of their birth are unsafe. Using a famous Nazi to diminish the supporters of NYCFC is more than insulting, it’s offensive. 

3. That picture isn’t so truthy

Finally, the still image in the tweet isn’t germane to the final decision made by VAR. The question isn’t if Justin Haak, the NYCFC player in the lower right of the screen, is offside when the ball is first headed forward. The question is if the contested header makes contact with either an Atlas or NYCFC player after Haak moved comfortably onside.

In other words, Atlas carefully picked an image that clearly supports the call that overturned the goal, and not the image that might put it in doubt.

Was Haak offsides? Possibly. But the tweet Atlas posted was pure propaganda. 

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Here’s a screenshot of the original Atlas tweet, for posterity’s sake:

UPDATED JULY 24 AT 3:45 PM ET: Atlas issued the following apology and posted it to twitter