Friendly will be ‘sym­bol of free­dom’: Ger­many’s Loew

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

BERLIN: Joachim Loew says Ger­many’s friendly against the Nether­lands to­day will be “a sym­bol of free­dom”, with the re­sult of lit­tle con­se­quence in the wake of the Paris terror at­tacks. The Ger­man Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (DFB) had been con­sid­er­ing can­celling the friendly in Hanover, but took the de­ci­sion over the week­end to go ahead with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and her cab­i­net set to at­tend the match. The shaken Ger­man team spent Fri­day night in the Stade de France sta­dium af­ter play­ing a friendly against the French the same night when 129 peo­ple died and 350 were in­jured in a se­ries of vi­o­lent at­tacks across Paris. Loew says se­cu­rity will be top pri­or­ity in Hanover, but the po­lit­i­cal im­por­tance of the match, as a state­ment against ter­ror­ism, out­weighs the fix­ture’s sport­ing value. “It’s a clear mes­sage and sym­bol of free­dom and a demonstration of com­pas­sion, as well as sor­row, for our French friends-not only in France, but through­out the world,” said Loew.

Loew has stood six play­ers down for the game. Ger­many cap­tain Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger, Lukas Podol­ski and Manuel Neuer are rested, while Jerome Boateng and Jonas Hec­tor are in­jured and Leroy Sane will play for Ger­many Un­der-21.

Sch­we­in­steiger wrote that he is “speech­less” on Twit­ter and Face­book on Sun­day and called for unity in the wake of the Paris at­tacks. “No mat­ter where you come from and what re­li­gion you fol­low-we are united,” he wrote. Team man­ager Oliver Bier­hoff says the DFB are con­sid­er­ing ways to show sol­i­dar­ity with France, but could not con­firm whether the French na­tional an­them, ‘Les Mar­seil­laise’, will be sung in the Hanover sta­dium. “We have had a few ideas, but we want to talk to the Dutch about them first,” added Bier­hoff. Against the back­ground of Fri­day’s events in Paris, Loew said “the much-touted sport­ing ri­valry be­tween Ger­many and Hol­land fades into the back­ground”.

‘WE WERE AFRAID’

The head coach looked drawn dur­ing yes­ter­day’s press con­fer­ence and brushed off ques­tions of a sport­ing na­ture, but spoke at length about why the Ger­mans want the friendly to go ahead.

“We want to play the game and be­have very pro­fes­sion­ally, but I be­lieve that the re­sult will not be an im­por­tant fac­tor,” said Ger­many’s World Cup-win­ning coach.

“Dur­ing the ter­ri­ble, shock­ing night, which we ex­pe­ri­enced in the dress­ing room (in Paris), came the ques­tion: ‘can the game on Tues­day take place?’ and we talked about it to the play­ers “I had the feel­ing when we ar­rived back on Satur­day that the game couldn’t, and shouldn’t, take place.

“We had to get over the shock and we were afraid. “But we talked about it again on the Sun­day and it was clear that the game had to take place. It’s a clear state­ment about free­dom and sol­i­dar­ity. “Clearly, we will be think­ing of the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies.” With Merkel set to at­tend, the DFB has said se­cu­rity will be a high pri­or­ity and Loew said there was no fear in the team of a re­peat of what they ex­pe­ri­enced in Paris.

“I be­lieve ev­ery­thing will be done to make the game as safe as pos­si­ble,” said Loew. “I have al­ready spo­ken to our psy­chol­o­gist. We have to be sure that when we stand on the pitch, we are all fully con­cen­trated, but sport will take a bit of a back seat.

“This game won’t be the yard­stick it would nor­mally be for me.” Loew was very clear when asked if the game would be a cel­e­bra­tion of life af­ter the hor­ror scenes in Paris: “A party at­mos­phere wouldn’t be ap­pro­pri­ate” he said tersely. — AFP

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