Schalke have laid blame for their struggles this season on suspended midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, according to his half-brother Jerome.
Kevin-Prince was suspended indefinitiely by the club earlier this month following a 2-0 defeat at Cologne, with Sport Bild reporting that a speech given in the dressing room after the loss led to the dispute.
Allegedly, the former Ghana international urged other members of the squad to finally act like a team, with the club now believing he is a divisive influence.
Jerome, who plays for Bayern Munich defender, said: “I was surprised when my eldest brother George informed me [about the suspension]. At first I did not know what to say. He’s disappointed by those in charge at Schalke, and I absolutely understand it.
“It’s clear that Schalke were looking for a scapegoat. My brother did not feature in the first XI for weeks. And only because he then started once in a team that’s played unsuccessful for weeks, he all of a sudden is supposed to have dragged them down?”
Schalke failed to qualify for the Champions League next season, for the first time since 2010-11, but they have at least confirmed a place in next season’s Europa League as a consolation.
Former Germany international Sidney Sam, who had been struggling for playing time, was made an outcast at the same time as Kevin-Prince.
The row has rumbled on, with German players’ union VDV urging the two players to take action against the club to avoid a negative effect on their careers if the matter is not swiftly resolved.
Schalke will continue to pay both players’ salaries until they are either sold on to a new club or their contracts are annulled, although they will not receive bonuses. A report in Sport Bild last week said that Boateng earns an annual salary of â‚¬7.5 million including all bonuses, while Sam receives â‚¬4 million, also including bonuses.
Kevin-Prince, who has said he would be open to rejoining former club AC Milan, has rejected reports in German media that he refused to sign autographs for fans. He said: “Everything that is being put out there through the media is a lie.”
Marco Hoger, who was suspended at the same time, was allowed to return to team training on Tuesday.
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