Germans incensed by another harsh penalty
UEFA’s decision to banish mild-mannered coach Joachim Loew from the touchline for Thursday’s quarter-final against Portugal is being put down to anti-German feeling by a lot of people here, a suspicion fanned by the angry response from German FA bosses.
It’s not the first time Germany have been hit with what neutral observers (I’d like to consider myself one of those) might view as a rather harsh penalty just before a critical match.
It recalled the suspension of Torsten Frings on the eve of the World Cup semi-final against Italy two years ago, for his relatively minor role in a post-match scuffle with
Argentina players. Germans also remember that they had to do without Michael Ballack for the World Cup final in 2002, although that was a more straightforward decision.
Is it a general dislike of Germans? Are there influential people that don’t want to see the country that has won three European Championships (1972, 1980 and 1996) and three World Cups (1954, 1974, 1990) succeed again?
Bierhoff was quick to dismiss such an idea at an eve-of-match press conference in Basel but he was annoyed in the extreme.
“These are isolated cases,” he said. “I don’t think there is a special story going on here. But in this case perhaps a fine would have been sufficient.”
Loew said after the incident that he had just been coming to the aid of Josef Hickersberger, who was also sent off, in urging the fourth official to allow the Austrian freedom to roam in the technical area at pitchside. Loew has no history of criticising referees and he quickly shook hands with Hickersberger as they walked together towards the stands. Loew’s arguments thus seem entirely plausible.
To stunned Germans, it feels like an innocent bystander got whacked around for trying to help. It seems like Loew first got arrested and has now been convicted for being a Good Samaritan.
Erik Kirschbaum, Berlin
PHOTO: Joachim Loew carries a goal during a training session in Tenero, June 17, 2008. REUTERS/Alex Grimm