After the failure of the German national team at the World Cup held in Qatar, the leadership of the country’s football changed hands again. The new sporting director of the German Football Association (DFB) is legendary ex-scorer Rudi Feller, who immediately made a loud statement. The official advocated the abandonment of the captain’s LGBT armbands, which sparked heated debate during the world championship. About why Feller urges football players to refrain from participating in political actions, and the consequences of his statements – in our material.
In Qatar, the Germans are too caught up in actionism.
As part of the OneLove campaign for sexual minorities, rainbow captain armbands were one of the highlights at the start of the World Cup held in Qatar. They were tried for the first time in the Netherlands national team in the final draw of the Nations League, which ended just before the tournament in Qatar. The idea was soon embraced by other European teams – England, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Germany… The list is far from complete.
The players were scheduled to continue playing in Qatar, but then the problems started. It’s no secret how the authorities of this country treat such acts. And the International Football Federation (FIFA) did not want to argue with them. The controversy culminated on the eve of the England vs Iran match: Three Lions captain Harry Kane was about to go out in his rainbow armbands. FIFA has issued a statement banning rainbows and threatening national federations with financial sanctions and expelling players before the match begins. As a result, Kane appeared in an armband with the conciliatory inscription “No discrimination.”
Protesting before the match with Japan, the Germans went even further. In the team photo, Bundesteam players cover their mouths with their hands, implying FIFA’s attempt to silence them. In addition, the German Football Association threatened to sue the international federation. Behind all this scandal, the game itself, which the Hans-Dieter Flick players lost sensationally (1:2), faded into the background.
Then the Germans could not cope with Spain (1:1) and their victory over Costa Rica (4:2) was not enough to leave the group. Bundesteam failed in another major tournament, which caused a wave of criticism from fans and sarcastic jokes to its opponents. Everyone immediately remembered how much attention the players paid to political actions, completely forgetting to properly prepare for the tournament. It is enough to look at the gestures that the Germans bid farewell to the World Cup on Qatari television.
Feller must rehabilitate the Bundesteam
The failure in Qatar led to major changes in leadership positions. Strangely enough, Hans-Dieter Flick has retained his position as head coach and will prepare the team for the 2024 European Championship at home. But DFB sporting director Oliver Bierhoff, who had a contract for another year and a half, lost his job. In January he was replaced by the legendary Rudi Feller, who won the 1990 World Cup with Germany.
The 62-year-old specialist has vast experience. He ended his acting career at Bayer Leverkusen in 1996 and immediately moved from Leverkusen to the position of sporting director of the club, where he remained coach, officer and management consultant for several decades. and even a member of the shareholders’ committee. Before taking Bierhoff’s seat, Feller worked as a consultant on the DFB board – but not for long, apparently preparing to take up a new position.
Feller and Flick held a joint press conference the other day, which was also attended by the head coach of the German youth team, Antonio di Salvo. This was due to changes in the strategy of the main national team, namely, more focused on young players. In particular, six players, most of them in their 30s, were immediately called up to the German national team for the matches against Peru and Belgium.
Another issue is that the German football community has not received clear answers to the numerous questions that have arisen after the team’s previous failures. What exactly will leadership change? What will be the fate of honored veterans like Manuel Neuer? How will Feller and Flick share powers? There were a lot of general statements that did not convince fans that the changes made would bring success. It would seem that only victories will help to get rid of skepticism towards the national team.
Legendary striker started the match with scandalous armbands…
What you can be absolutely sure of is that the German national team will now try to distance itself from the political agenda. It is clear that the turmoil that turned out to be the team at the 2022 World Cup did not benefit him, but rather interfered. For example, Flick admitted that the captain of the national team, Manuel Neuer, was under a lot of pressure and it was felt by other players, because on the eve of the start of the tournament in Qatar, everyone was talking about rainbow armbands. .
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After analyzing the depressing performance in Qatar, conclusions were drawn about the team’s participation in various promotions. In an interview with Bild, Feller emphasized that the captain’s armband should be in national colors. The DFB’s new sporting director urged players to quit politics and focus on the game. According to him, this is exactly what the Germans did not have for an acceptable result at the World Cup.
Almost word for word, this idea was echoed by Flick. The head coach of the German national team said that lessons should be learned from the situation, noting that if the players want to support some kind of action, then “such sensitive issues need to be clarified in advance”.
In general, the DFB is seriously planning to restore the reputation of the national team, which has become the subject of ridicule and no longer inspires the old fear over the opponents. It is very important for the Germans to return the lost positions to the euro, whose failure will cost even more. In such a case, you should really only focus on the game.
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…brings the anger of the Democrats and the admiration of the far right
Meanwhile, Feller’s loud statement made the situation even more politicized. The words of the DFB’s new sports director were enthusiastically received by the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which received just over 10% of the vote in the last Bundestag elections. A thank you message was published on the social networks of the institution.
However, relations with the far-right party are not what the DFB had hoped after the abandonment of the LGBT colored captain’s armbands. The federation reacted immediately, stating that it would continue to protect the rights of sexual minorities and fight discrimination.
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Feller’s statement on the opposing political wing aroused quite different emotions. The official was particularly criticized by Nancy Feser of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, who also serves as the country’s Minister of the Interior. Many saw him in the stands next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino in the unfortunate match against Japan. Then on his arm was the same bandage that players were forbidden to wear.
Feller isn’t the first to get involved in politics
Feller’s reluctance to get involved in politics is understandable because he, like no one else, knows what it threatens. After all, it was connected with the loudest scandal of the 1990 World Cup, in which Germany won.
In the 1/8 final, the Germans faced the Netherlands. Feller had constant clashes with Frank Rijkaard during the game. They dissolved the relationship multiple times – and as a result, they were both removed. Rijkaard managed to spit on the back of Feller’s head before leaving the pitch, where he complained to the referee. As in footage of Feller showing his head to the referee, the episode hit the camera lenses.
After the match, it became clear what caused so much tension between the players. Rijkaard accused Feller of making racist remarks against him – allegedly calling a rival of Surinamese descent a “black monkey”. The German admitted that in a moment of passion he could use vulgar expressions, but certainly not that obnoxious. At the same time, the aggressor assured that the Dutchman called him “fascist”. Regardless, the moment Rijkaard spit was one of the most memorable in World Championship history.
But the scandals in Feller’s biography are limited to this situation. Inappropriate behavior of the legendary striker was not observed, and his private life has always been unobtrusive and calm. But as soon as he took a new position, Feller forced the public to talk about him differently. With just one sentence, he caused a serious storm in the field of knowledge. And until the German national team starts to win on the field, this topic will continue to be one of the most discussed.
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