FRANKFURT/ROME: Germany’s World Cup-winning forward Thomas Muller has found himself embroiled in a row over the value of national team matches against minnow nations writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
German football officials have long been among the most voluble in querying the traditional qualifying groups arrangements in both World Cups and European Championships, claiming that such matches are a waste of time and effort.
FIFA and UEFA, by contrast, have pointed to the promotional significance of such games in smaller nations.
Muller sparked the latest spat, after the world champions’ 8-0 thrashing of San Marino last Friday in a World Cup qualifying tie in Serravalle.
Later Muller, who came in for close marking and failed to score a goal, said: “I do not see the point of playing such unbalanced games. I understand it’s special for them to play against the world champions. I also understand that they have to defend in a rough way. But I question whether if such matches we are not subjected to unnecessary risks.”
Muller’s Bayern Munich chairman supported his player by saying: “San Marino has got nothing to do with professional football.”
Their complaint prompted a sharp reaction from Alan Gasperoni, press officer of the San Marino federation, on his Facebook page.
Dear Thomas Müller,
You’re right. Games like that on a Friday night, are nothing to you.
On the other hand, dear Thomas, you do not need to come to San Marino for almost nothing in a weekend in which, without the Bundesliga, you could have spent with your wife on the sofa of your luxury villa or, who knows, you could have taken part in some events organised by your sponsors to bank several thousand euro.
I believe you, but allow me to give 10 good reasons for which I think the San Marino-Germany match was very useful and if only you could think about it and let me know what you think:
1, It served to show you that not even against the teams as poor as ours you can’t score a goal – and don’t say you weren’t pissed when Simoncini stopped you scoring…;
2, It served to make it clear to your managers (even Beckenbauer and Rummenigge) that football is not owned by them but by of all those who love it, among which, like it or not, WE are included;
3, It served to remind hundreds of journalists from all over Europe that there are still guys who follow their dreams and not your rules;
4, It served to confirm that you Germans will never change and that history has taught you that ‘bullying’ is not always guarantee of victory;
5, It served to show the 200 guys in San Marino who play the game for whatever reason why their coaches ask them to always work their hardest. Who knows, maybe one day all their sacrifice will be repaid with a game against the champions of the world?
6, It provided your federation (and also ours) with money from image rights with which, in addition to paying you for your trouble, can build pitches for the kids of your own country, schools, and make football stadiums safer … Our federation, I’ll let you in on a secret, is building a new football pitch in a remote village called Acquaviva. You could build it with six months of your salary, we’ll do it with the rights of 90 minutes of this game. Not bad?
7, It served a country as big as your pitch in Munich to appear in the papers for a good reason, because a football match is always a good reason;
8, It served to your friend [Sege] Gnabry to make his debut in the national team and score three goals;
9, It made some Sanmarinese people happy to remember that we have a real national team;
10, It reminded me that, even if you wear the most beautiful Adidas kits, underneath you’re still the ones who wear white socks with sandals.