As regular readers know I have long been a kind of inverted fan of The Daily Mail, the newspaper which came out in official support of the British Union of Fascists back in 1934 with their headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!” Well, today the Mail is running a great story about the German national football team – and how the Germans in it are not true Germans but a whole bunch of foreigners. German nationalism is obviously an important issue for the Mail – or perhaps it’s more of a dirty cheating Germans story in anticipation of….no I won’t say it. I have to say we were treated to the sight for the first time ever in the World Cup of the two Boateng brothers playing on opposite sides in Germany versus Ghana this week. And Boateng is a traditional Ghanaian name rather than a German one…..My goodness I am beginning to sound like a Daily Mail reader. One read clearly has a lasting effect.
Whatever, this is a great story by true pro journalist Adam Tozer in today’s Mail.
To long-suffering England fans, Germany’s footballers are an all-too familiar foe.
But the side that the Three Lions will face in Sunday’s World Cup clash is anything but representative of the old Germany.
In fact, many of them wouldn’t have even been able to play for the three-times World Cup winners, until a recent change in the country’s strict citizenship laws.
German Squad – Old foe, new faces: The German World Cup squad who face England on Sunday. Numbered are those players who, before 1999, could not have become German citizens
A total of 11 of the current 23-strong German squad would have been branded foreigners under rules dating back to before the Nazis and would have therefore been ineligible to play only a decade ago.
Names such as Jurgen, Klaus, Franz and Lothar have been replaced with those of Mezut, Mario and Cacau.
Under strict citizenship laws dating back to 1913 and the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II, only children born in Germany to parents who were both Germans themselves could be considered German. At the time Germany was in a frenzy of nationalism as it armed in preparation for the First World War.
They were not repealed until 1999 as Germany – mindful of having the most dramatically declining birthrate in the world – finally made it easier to become a citizen of the Fatherland.
The new-look German side is collectively known as ‘Generation M’ for ‘multi-cultural’.
Observers say it the change has led to an influx of exciting new players for the German team.
By contrast, the England side has been regularly benefiting from players of immigrant backgrounds since the 1970s, and eight of the current squad are black or mixed-race.
Parallels will also be drawn with the French World Cup-winning side of 1998 which featured many members of France’s large ethnic minority communities and was credited with advancing race relations in France.
A majority of that team had foreign-born parents, including star player Zinedine Zidane, whose parents moved to France from Algeria.
England? They’re stupid and burnt out says (guess who) Franz Beckenbauer
It’s not really a game that needs any extra rivalry.
But that hasn’t stopped Germany’s greatest ever footballer from stoking up the tensions ahead of his country’s World Cup clash with England on Sunday.
Franz Beckenbauer yesterday intensified his criticism of the England team, calling them ‘stupid’ and ‘burnt out’.
AND WE’RE IN RED SHIRTS AGAIN…
After dusting off their ‘lucky’ all-red strip for the first time in 40 years for the win against Slovenia on Wednesday, England-will wear it for Sunday’s match against Germany.
England have never lost in five games wearing red shirts, shorts and socks – winning four games – yet last wore the combination in 1970.
The team have usually worn red shirts, white shorts and red socks as an alternative kit when facing opposition in similar colours, such as Germany.
‘The Kaiser’, who won the World Cup with Germany as a player and a manager and now works for football’s governing body, Fifa, had already slated England for playing ‘kick and rush’ football in this summer’s tournament.
But after hearing that the two sides were to meet in a last-16 knockout tie because England failed to top their group as expected, he continued his assault on Fabio Capello’s men, telling German newspaper Bild: ‘A game like this should be a semi-final, not a last-16 game. Stupidly, the English have slipped up a little by finishing second in their group.’
He added: ‘The English look a little tired. There is a good reason for that. The Premier League players have got to play far more games than their [German league] colleagues, including two national cup competitions.
‘Therefore, when it comes to a World Cup or a European Championships, they are burnt out. Our players, on the other hand, seem to be in a physically better condition.’
Of how he felt about having to play England earlier than expected in South Africa, he said: ‘Of course we respect them, but we certainly don’t fear them. England’s first two appearances at the World Cup were paltry, but they improved against Slovenia.’
In a backhanded compliment apparently designed to pile pressure on to England, he added: ‘And after all, England have been waiting since 1966 for a title.
‘Fabio Capello appears to have brought discipline to the troops. After they failed to qualify for Euro 2008, England hit rock bottom.’
Beckenbauer’s ‘mind games’ appeared last night to have backfired within the England camp based in Rustenburg. One insider said: ‘We must thank Beckenbauer for doing a team talk for us – we can pin his comments on the dressing room wall before the match and that will give us all the motivation we need.’