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German Muslims have inundated one of the country's top soccer teams, Schalke 04, with complaints about a verse in the club's anthem which, they say, is disparaging towards the Prophet Mohammad.
The club has its home in Gelsenkirchen in Germany's industrial heartland and immigrants make up about a third of the town's population. Most of them have a Turkish background. Germany's biggest mosque was opened in nearby Duisburg last year and many Schalke supporters are Muslims, as chat rooms like this one point out.
The lines in question are: "Mohammad was a Prophet who doesn't understand football" although the words that follow seem positive: "But from all the beautiful colours he came up with blue and white." Schalke's colours are blue and white.
The club, which plays in Germany's Bundesliga top league and has some of the country's most ardent fans, is taking the complaints seriously. A spokesman has said Schalke has asked an Islamic expert to analyse the text.
It was clear from the start that Felix Magath’s move to VfL Wolfsburg in 2007, after winning consecutive league and cup doubles with Bayern Munich, was a step backwards before another big step forward.
No one really expected them to be top of the table with three matches left this season. Magath himself said the team had met their targets earlier than expected.
The great and the good of German soccer have been quick to condemn Kevin Kuranyi after the Schalke 04 striker walked away from the national team at the weekend.
Former Germany coach Franz Beckenbauer said Kuranyi’s behaviour was “ridiculous” and had overshadowed the good impression Germany made in their 2-1 win over Russia.
Bayern Munich could win the Bundesliga championship this weekend without even kicking a ball.
With a 12-point lead over Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 and four matches left, Bayern — who don’t play again until visiting VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday — will be watching from their recliners on Saturday when Bremen and Schalke try to keep their faint hopes alive.
Juventus are to become the first Italian club to have their stadium sponsored.
The concept is so alien to Italians that Juve had to hold a presentation in Milan this week to explain what it was all about, and to look for sponsors. I went along hoping to speak to the directors about potential transfers but most of my Italian colleagues asked question after question about this strange new marketing trend.
Having attended the first game at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton 11 years ago, I’ve become rather used to the idea and don’t think it differs much to sponsored shirts.
On Sunday night, after five years of calm, Barcelona fans finally exploded. The white handkerchiefs — a common way of showing frustration in Spain’s stadiums — were out, against the club president, the coach, the players … anybody involved in what seems set to be a second straight trophy-less year.
More precisely, Sunday’s exhibition was against the perceived apathy of millionaire players who appear to move ever more slowly, as if they weren’t in the match at all.
It was just like old times for me covering Frank Rijkaard’s press conferences either side of Barcelona’s Champions League win over Schalke, as another Dutch coach got the Louis van Gaal treatment from the media.
I was based in Barcelona when Van Gaal finally called it quits at the end of his first spell at the club and listening to the Catalan press and radio hounding out the former Ajax man was at times almost painful.