Storm over 'bunch of gays' in Germany's World Cup team
German football is engulfed in controversy after Michael Ballack’s agent allegedly referred to a “bunch of gays” in the national team.
Michael Becker, who has been German captain Ballack’s agent for more than a decade, is reported to have made the comment in the latest edition of the German magazine Der Spiegel.
In an essay entitled New German Men, Aleksander Osang recounts an interview he had with Becker prior to the World Cup in which the agent allegedly told him which of the players in the team were gay.
He later said that a former national player was ready to reveal the “bunch of gays” in the German team, according to Osang. Asked about the sexuality of one of the newer players, Becker, who is a lawyer by profession, referred to him as being “half gay”.
Style of play
Osang went on to say that Becker put the new adroit, lighter and elegant style of play that has become a trademark of trainer Joachim Löw’s players down to their homosexuality, in contrast to the typically more aggressive and offensive German style of past years, but suggested they played too delicately to assure themselves a place in the final.
According to Der Spiegel, when Becker made his remarks about the “bunch of gays” he expected the ears of fellow journalists present to “prick up”. “But they only nodded placidly,” said Osang.
“All sports journalists seemed to already know the alleged homosexual conspiracies enveloping Löw’s team. The rumours accompanied our team to South Africa and evidently belong to the team.”
Germany came third in the World Cup, going further than expected, after an excellent run that included wins over England and Argentina.
The team were particularly celebrated for being the youngest in 76 years and more ethnically diverse than any team in Germany football history.
Ballack, who was injured just before the World Cup, spent the tournament watching his team from the VIP stands. Philipp Lahm filled in as temporary captain. The sidelined player could only stand by and watch as the newer, younger players won over the hearts of the nation, as well as winning many fans beyond Germany.
Becker’s remarks, which have been picked up across the German press, have attracted sharp reactions from the football world.
A spokesman for Bayer Leverkusen, the club where Ballack began his career and to which he will return after his departure from Chelsea FC, said it was shocked by the remarks.
“At Bayer Leverkusen we have absolutely no resentment towards homosexuals,” it said in a statement. The German Football Federation, which is the sporting association with the largest membership in the world, refused to comment, while Löw said he “would not stoop so low” as to react.
But the comments have raised concerns that homosexuality remains one of the major taboos in the footballing world. The only German footballer to have outed himself as gay is the former regional league player for Erfurt Marcus Urban, and that was only after his professional career was over. Experts estimate that around 10 per cent of all Bundesliga professionals are gay.
Becker has neither denied nor confirmed that he made the comments, but has since said he was “misunderstood” and that the interview was not “authorised”, a common journalistic practice in Germany whereby the interviewee has the right to change his remarks after the interview.
Osang said he stood by his article, saying that Becker had told him “unbelievable stories that I took down in my notebook and Becker didn’t seem to have anything against me doing so”.
From the Guardian