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German Olympic footballers: a disgrace with an announcement

Olympia 2021
Out for German footballers – a disgrace with an announcement

Disappointed: Marco Richter after the foreseeable Olympic exit of the footballers.

© Kohei Chibahara / AFP

The German Olympic footballers failed in the preliminary round. That was foreseeable. The fact that the largest sports association was not able to put together a competitive squad is an absolute indictment.

Next preliminary round, next disgrace for Germany’s flagship sport. And one with an announcement. Actually, Stefan Kuntz would have had to replace himself in the decisive group game against Ivory Coast (1: 1) in order to score the redeeming goal for the quarter-finals at the last minute. But at the crucial moment the coach of Team Germany – formerly top striker and European champion from 1996 – was only available to Keven Schlotterbeck from Freiburg; a defensive line. After his substitution, only the two substitute goalkeepers were left on the bench. You have to say: Team Germany literally “threw everything in”.

Now it is not as if the footballers were previously medal guarantors at the Olympics. Often enough one was not qualified or did not even take part. But despite everything, Tokyo 2021 is another low point. Stefan Kuntz only had 14 outfield players after the red card for Amos Pieper in the previous game against the Ivorians. 14 field players because the German Football Association did not even manage to nominate a full squad for the most important sports festival in the world; not to mention a competitive one. What an indictment for the largest sports association in the world. What an indictment for all of German football, which is so big on itself.

German football: high-quality competitions are underestimated

You can of course cite a few excuses: the pandemic, the European Championship and the U21 European Championship, which both took place recently, and then there is the ongoing preparations for the season. That’s right, but all of this creates problems for the other Olympic participants. And so one can ask how in the world the Spaniards, for example, still manage to muster a full squad that is not only fed from the well-known clubs, but also has half a dozen EM drivers on board. Incidentally, this also includes Dani Olmo from RB Leipzig. FC Bayern, on the other hand, has even refused to allow its third goalkeeper to go to the Olympics. Or the Mexicans? You are in the Olympic quarter-finals, while the A-national team is reaching for the title at the same time (!) In the Gold Cup, the Central American Championship.

If you are looking for reasons why the most popular sport among Germans has recently been losing quality and reputation, you will also find it here. In boundless overconfidence, competitions are classified as “not so important”. The Olympics are one of them, at club level it is, for example, the Europa League. Let’s take the Spaniards again as a comparison: While the Iberians give their top talents at the Olympics at least international tournament experience, which will later benefit them at the European Championships and World Cup, Germany doesn’t even bring together a squad. And while Sevilla FC is the record winner of the Europa League, the Bundesliga clubs usually do not even survive the group stage of the “Loser Cup”, as the EL is often decried in this country.

“This is an absolute insult”

When it comes to the Olympics, there is also disrespect. Former handball national goalkeeper Martin Ziemer was right to criticize this even before Tokyo. “The fact that in a football nation like Germany you can’t send a team there,” he said in “Kicker”, “(…) that’s an absolute insult and doesn’t give a good picture at all.” Ziemer referred to the many athletes, rowers and gymnasts for whom participating in the Olympics is everything and who subordinate everything to this goal – mostly alongside a regular job. A meeting with these athletes at the Olympics could only be good for the professional kickers, said Stefan Kuntz at the same point. And then the Olympic coach said: “Germany shouldn’t be embarrassed that there aren’t enough people to send 22 men to Tokyo.” Germany has given itself this embarrassment. If nothing changes in this setting, others will follow.

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