Russia 2018 – The show must go on!

The members of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Organizing Committee must be watching the 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup draw with great interest. Most importantly, this would have given them hope that come 2021 and they too would be hosting similar event for the World Cup draw. That nothing is going to stop them from hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  

Gary Lineker, ex-England player, himself a Golden Boot winner at the 1986 World Cup and TV Host of BBC’s Match of the Day for more than two decades hosts the 2018 World Cup draw. Lineker, in the past has been critical of FIFA, the organization fraught with corruption. When Lineker was criticized for his hypocrisy in agreeing to host the draw, he offered his reasons. He reasoned that all corrupt FIFA officials including ex-President Sepp Blatter are out or on their way out. According to Lineker,  “If Blatter had still been in charge, I wouldn’t have done it but you have a lot of ex-footballers running the show now. They are making changes and it’s only fair to give them an opportunity.”  

So ex-footballers in charge and few officials out and everything is on track in FIFA.  How about all the allegations against the host nation? Amongst the many things doping, racism, human rights violation in construction of stadiums and other infrastructure surrounding the World Cup?  Here an Inside the Games article by Liam Morgan highlights some of the issues that has plagued Russia, the host nation.  But of course, if you ask Lineker none of this matters.

Qatar, the 2022 host nation too has faced lot of allegations starting from winning the bid by dodgy means. But just as Russia 2018 has shown when the time comes, none of those allegations matters. Because the focus is then solely on the event. Nobody really cares how the bid was won, how many people died building the infrastructure for a four-week event or that there was widespread doping to gain unfair advantage.

Sometime in October I had written this piece. Of course, nothing has changed. Not that I expected it.

And in the end, all that matters is that the World Cup is here. And we all should celebrate it.  The show must go on. Tragic!


England U17 World Cup Triumph Celebrations Invites Criticism

The FIFA U17 World Cup that concluded last week was a huge success, at least going by the numbers presented by FIFA. England U17 boys won the championship in front of more than 65,000 people in the stadium in Kolkata, India.  That England won the tournament after their successes at other youth tournaments in recent times was a cause of huge celebration especially for them since their since senior team has repeatedly failed at World Cups – their one and only star (yet) won back in 1966.

While everyone hailed the U17 boys triumph there was someone who was not happy – with the way the boys celebrated their win. With their shirts turned around so that people can see their names and “remember” them!  This criticism of course invited further criticism from people who were not happy with the questioning of the celebrations.

Brewster U17 win
Brewster with his shirt turned around. (Pic courtesy: Reuters)

Seventeen year olds! Heaven’s sake, they are just boys! Was the cry in their support. Fair enough.

While sitting on the fence on this debate – my only question is – how did the boys get this idea of turning around their shirts in the first place? What made them think it is important for the world to know who they are, and to remember them for long? (Which I am assuming would have led them to turn around their shirts in the first place?) Was this celebration impromptu or was it pre-planned?  

Also, why blame the boys when you turn the youth tournaments as well into some major events category? Youth world cups are now telecasted live. Sponsors pour in money. The tournaments are hyped by FIFA. They are constantly in the news, on social media channels and in general get reasonably wide media coverage.  And of course, the boys (in this case) know they are on television. So they would try to get noticed as much as possible. They would have learned it from other footballing stars and (for that matter any other sport stars) including all those pre-planned/well practised celebrations.  It is about visibility. It is about building your brand. It is alright, they are learning it at a young age and learning it rather quickly.  

Is this exposure good for them or not? This answer would have to come from their parents and their close confidants who are going to provide that sane voice necessary in such situations.  The one who have their ‘real’ interest at heart. Because let us not forget we have all heard about those pushy parents stories too. Here is one. We can cut them some slack for being seventeen-year-olds but what cannot be ignored is that they also are well exposed in today’s day and age. 

Many of these players are already with youth academies of big clubs. Probably they already have agents or maybe the turning around of shirt celebration was one way to get noticed by the agents. But do they really need agents at this young age? Maybe the professional world of football is difficult to navigate but surely the parents can step in and protect their boys. 

Ah, we are already going around in circles. Welcome to the world of soccer/football business! Catch them young!

Conscience call to all football players

So the Hertha Berlin players took a knee – in support of their sport brethren in the US (National Football League [NFL] players in the US are protesting against racism and police brutality by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem). Some appreciated the Hertha players, some found it PR stunt and some found it downright cringeworthy.  Irrespective of whatever one’s view is on the subject, if the players, the coaching staff and everyone involved wanted to make a statement through this gesture, good for them.

Now here comes my ‘whataboutery’ though on the issue.  It is more closer – not distant wise – but more sport wise. Football (soccer) players have been involved either on their own or through their clubs/leagues/national governing bodies/sport governing body in raising issues about racism, sexism, discrimination etc. All about the ‘Equal Game’ campaign.  Or about the ‘Say No to Racism’ campaign.  

However, I am yet to come across any player and/or team to raise the issue of human rights violation. About the North Korean workers conditions in Russia for building stadiums and infrastructure for the World Cup there next year. And also about the issue with the conditions of migrant workers in Qatar, the nation that is going to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  

We have heard and read of the news of migrant workers working and living in deplorable conditions to construct stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.  According to the Human Rights Watch Report, health authorities reported 520 deaths of workers from South Asia (Bangladesh, India and Nepal). About 74 percent or 385 of these deaths were from unexplained causes. Further, the HRW reports that Qatari public health officials did not respond to their request for information about the total number and causes of death of these migrant workers since 2012.  

All of this is swept under the carpet. These poor workers do not have a voice. They are poor – exploited by touts in their own countries, land in Qatar, get further abused, and when they die, the last bit of their existence too is wiped out. Just like that. They come from such poor backgrounds that their families too don’t have it in them to fight for justice.  

With social media’s presence it is difficult to fathom those footballers who took the knee are not aware of these poor migrant workers issue. No, not pointing the fingers towards only the Hertha Berlin players.  This is applicable to all football players around the globe. Hertha showed the way by following a movement, surely someone can start one of their own too to address the human rights violation issue.  

I am only wondering if football players are going to speak about the labourers building those stadiums and infrastructure so that they can come over for about four weeks to kick a ball around and pocket all the glory (money, name, fame etc). Of course, it is understandable with Qatar’s money power that no football player (not to mention others associated with the sport too who have largely maintained a silence on the subject – as rightly pointed out by Nicholas McGeehan here)  may raise this matter.

Let us wait and watch who is going to be the brave one to voice their concern on the issue.

Das Reboot :):):) !!!

Continuing my Das Reboot (by Raphael Honigstein) series (Das Reboot – Questionnaire!) here is one more post. While the book is essentially a story of how Germany reinvented itself in the football world, there are some observations, lines, stories that made me smile, made me laugh. This light hearted moments described in the book were refreshing, especially some of Rafa’s one liners!

So here are what I called the ha ha points (!!!) from the book!  

  1. Team bonding exercise before embarking on a journey to Brazil – 2014 Sauna World Cup Winner – 60 men in a sauna!  
  2. Thomas Müller: With his five euro haircut and legs!
  3. Joachim Löw : Pudding bowl haircut!
  4. Weise demonstration: Wish you could have recorded it!  Or even some pics, frame by frame. The way you have described it sounds very interesting! 
  5. Representatives from regional federations wanted to pick their “guys”. Ah, sounds like how things are in Indian cricket!
  6. Porto Alegre where shopkeepers sell things no one needs!
  7. Why can’t we be like Austrians? This sure would be music to the ears of Austrians! Oliver Bierhoff indeed is a PR pro!  
  8. Describing Mats Hummels (tall, dark, handsome, like a leading man in a Mexican telenovela) you sounded more like a M & B writer here!
  9. Now look how you described that match, Rafa – wretched, lucky, deserved, flattering, frightening, demoralizing, encouraging. Remember that German thing you mentioned – not being happy/not finding happiness?! And then the Austrian reporter put it in it proper context – “We would have been happy we are in the quarter finals!”
  10. Ralf Rangnick described as your typical dentist – bespectacled, quietly spoken. Gave the appearance of being more at home in an architect’s office rather than a TV studio!
  11. Klopp being Klopp: We would have also climbed a tree a hundred and fifty times if that brought us some points!
  12. FC Bayern Munich = FC Hollywood! Here comes the cameras! Reality Football Show!
  13. Conspiracy against Germany – after its exit in the quarterfinals at the WC in France! 
  14. England see Hitler’s Ghost: Same story in all sports – haunted accommodation, bad food, etc., specially if the visiting team(s) are not exactly doing well. In 2006 Daily Star reported that visiting England team was haunted by ghost of Hitler!
  15. Jurgen Klopp’s lament- They have done it like the Chinese! They have copied us! (On Bayern copying his gegenpressing style)
  16. Youth Hostel Warden!!! Well, if the players were divided into houses with head-boys how can they be left without a warden for the whole place?! Yes, the man responsible for that wonderful experiment in social engineering with Campo Bahia as base camp was labelled as Youth Hostel Warden by Per Mertesacker! That by the way is Mr Oliver Bierhoff! 
  17. Cacau aka Helmut – after he had to answer a question about then Chancellor Helmut Kohl for his citizenship exam!
  18. Vuvuzelas! They got on the nerves of lot of people. Have to admit I hardly noticed its sound when I watched matches live in 2010. But down the line watching the highlights of some of the matches now, I do find it a bit irritating.  
  19. Ah! Something the players were unprepared for! That feeling of having won the World Cup! They did not know where they were!  


Das Reboot – Gems

This post was long over due.  In my post, Das Reboot – Questionnaire! I had mentioned that after my questions to the author, I’ll pen down my views on the book. Not exactly a book review but something different. In this post, I have compiled some of the interesting/salient points that I found in the book. I would like to call these “gems”. They provide an insight into people and their personalities, the times, the circumstances, what changed, how people adapted and much more.  Of course, the whole book is full of such treasured gems, but I picked some of the best (according to me!) from it.  They are in no particular order as such. I just kept noting them down as I moved along reading the book.   

PS: I have also added some points as follow-up on some of the policies put in place by DFB and its whole team (including the coaching staff).

  1. Joachim Löw as a genteel soul. Someone who values harmony and shuns open conflicts. Wonder if this could be the reason why he is happy to coach a national team rather than a club team? We did get a glimpse of Löw’s  tenderness in that break in the extra time in the 2014 WC final. While Alejandro Sabella, the Argentina coach was screaming his heart out, trying to pump up his players, what we saw on camera was Löw caressing Goetze’s chin and then checking with Ozil and giving him a warm hug – as if a father saying to their child, it is okay, you’ll be fine, just few more minutes of agony. Of course, his technical expertise is well documented when Klinsmann mentioned that “not one manager was able to explain to me how the back four worked, and it only took one minute with Jogi (Löw)  for me to understand how it worked.” 
  2. Sami Khedira, quite well rounded. He read books for motivation, read about leaders in business and politics at 18! Wonder if he still reads? And if yes, what does he read? Also interesting point about his role as a peacemaker.  E.g. finely tuned sense for dressing room moods. And he learned Spanish before arriving in Madrid! 
  3. Muller too wise for his age: at the age of 12 he describes “a team”! 
  4. Overall personality grooming. How the coaching staff, FA and everyone involved focused on this. Not just grooming for becoming football players but overall personality development. Good example, cultural training before embarking on the trip to Iran.
  5. We still continue to see the excellent PR work by DFB. Full page ad in a french newspaper after Euro 2016, open letter by Julian Draxler (of course, written by DFB PR team!) in Russia during ConFed cup, thanking hotel staff at Evian, even the juniors (Euro U21) and the whole coaching staff stood with a banner thanking staff in Poland.  
  6. The makeover: Overall change of image. Deep cleansing of the image which still continues. How the players conduct themselves very important. Now DM is almost like a brand. This reminds me of the incident that took place after Germany loss to Brazil in the 2016 Rio Olympics finals.  Germany right-back Robert Bauer made a gesture referencing Germany’s famous 7-1 victory over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  He was reprimanded by the DFB and later apologized for his actions.  
  7. 2006 is where Germany started re-discovering itself. This is also when the Die Mannschaft started becoming multicultural. And now we always see this multicultural team right from the junior level and up. 2010 was multicultural Die Mannschaft with players of immigrant background well and truly part of the team and paving for others to follow suit.
  8. Löw and Urs Siegenthaler partnership. Consumed by football, tactics and analysis. Data gathering on other teams – not just tactical data like playing style but also mental data including off the pitch mentality.  Thomas Hitzlsperger describes this example in the book regarding Siegenthaler and his research: “I remember he was saying that the Ecuadorians were very hard workers, strong athletes, but they were prone to losing their heads.  They have a tendency to become impatient and didn’t react well to pressure.  So you had to keep them busy all the time.”  
  9. Per Mertsacker, yes, the BFG, worked with handicapped people in mental hospital for 18 months in lieu of military training. And he got some valuable life lessons.  
  10. Mertsacker’s view: What one experience as a player on the field, during the game is very different to what those off the pitch experience it, especially those in the media. Maybe because the emotions, the adrenaline, the belief that while those on the field could do something to change the course of the game, those on the outside have very little influence.  
  11. German disposition: Ingrained unwillingness to accept imperfect performance irrespective of extraneous circumstances.  For example, economic crises elsewhere but not in Germany, banks going bust, not in Germany. Everyone including the German public expect that everything has to function perfectly in all spheres of life.  Hence so much of negative reaction against the team after their round 16 match against Algeria.
  12. Talent Development Research: Conducted on behalf of German FA since 2008. Fourteen thousand youngsters tested in six disciplines: 20 metres sprints, agility, dribbling, ball control, shooting and ball juggling.  
  13. Sexism, no sexism: Ralf Rangnick exchanged notes with a female volleyball player in the late 70s.  They both learned from each other through their different sports. While Ulla Holthoff, Mats Hummel’s mother had to face sexism when she became the first female commentator.  
  14. Rangnick was labelled a ‘professor’ in a negative way. Basically an academic who was out of touch with reality. In hindsight, Rangnick admits it was a mistake to go on that TV show (ZDF Sportstudio). Other labels attached to him were, a nerdy person, Kopfmensch (literally – a head person).
  15. Ah! Even Joachim Low has had the misfortune of being fired – May 1998 – Stuttgart.
  16. Klopp versus Rangnick: Harry Potter vs Professor!  While they both crossed swords (and continue to do so) the defining moment for their careers was not on the touchline but in the TV studio. While Rangnick’s 90 second interview hugely damaged his career/image, Klopp found instant success in the ZDF TV studio.  Klopp with his easy manners, self-deprecating humor without patronizing the audience instantly connected with the audience. Also, he was willing to try out new things. He worked with a software company to develop a new video tool that allowed him to draw circles and arrows on to the screen while working a football expert on TV.  Jan Doehling (an editor in ZDF Sports office) has this to say about Klopp, “We realized he (Klopp) knew how to put his point across and to mesmerize people.  If he had started a political party they would have voted him into government immediately”! And this remain true of Klopp till date. At Mainz, in Dortmund and currently at Liverpool, the fans absolutely love him. Meanwhile, it took Rangnick years to atone for the impudence of explaining the back four tactic.   
  17. Klopp’s contribution is not limited to the touchline but off the pitch too, into the homes of people, on the TV screens. According to Christoph Biermann, “Other Bundesliga coaches should thank Klopp for introducing a bit more objectivity into the way football is being talked about.
  18. Recognize failings: According to Matthias Summer, one of the many failures in German football in the 90s was not defining the role of the managers as the decisive figure.  
  19. Religion is a sensitive subject all around the world. When some interior designers put Buddha figurines in the new Allianz Arena performance centre it did not go down well with the supporters in the staunchly catholic Bavaria. They were offended by those figurines.  It is safe to assume those statutes would have been removed immediately.  
  20. Klopp’s BVB team of 2010-2011: According to Der Spiegel, “This team is emblematic of the kind of paradigm shift in German football that the national team stands for.  Young professionals, technically and tactically well educated, aware of their own strengths but never arrogant – BVB was like a miniature of the national side.  The comparison is apt in another sense too. Rarely was a squad so well liked by the whole of the country.  
  21. Even when Klopp and Rangnick crossed swords, Rangnick had high praise for Klopp and his Dortmund team, “he had the courage of his convictions, that was the key to his success at BVB.”
  22. Germany were too late and hence could not get the best roll turf for the team to practice on (for World Cup in 2014 in Brazil).  Ah, even the best prepared can get caught off – are unprepared.  However, groundsman Rainer Ernst and his team still managed to get the practice pitch ready before the team arrived in Brazil.  
  23. Stating the obvious: Football is a tough business – one player gets injured, other comes in, life goes on. Same in other sports. Same in life. One person’s misfortune is an opportunity for somebody else. Life goes on. Indeed it does.  
  24. Klinsmann footprints left an impression. Bierhoff went ahead with Campo Bahia.
  25. Players were offered a course in video editing to take their minds off football at the team hotel in 2010 in South Africa.  
  26. Germany’s boggie teams: Italy (of course, they finally did defeat them at Euro 2016), Spain, Croatia, Serbia.
  27. The photo: Of that goal which was “in” but stood as “out” with doctored line hung next to the massage bench in 2010!  
  28. Youngsters were groomed very well by the coaching staff who are in for high praise. Muller, Ozil, Khedira, Neuer benefitted from this.  
  29. Winning players trust – Arne Friedrich writes that after that semifinal loss against Spain in the 2010 WC he went to the head coach, Löw and asked him to continue as a coach for the national team. And seven years down the line, Löw is still at the helm. Must be doing something right! 
  30. Pressure: Philip Lahm describing the tremendous pressure, especially he and Schweinsteiger were under at the Champions League finals at Wembley against Borussia Dortmund in 2013. The way he describes it, it sounds greater than playing in the World Cup finals.  
  31. Emotions of fans versus those of the players: According to Thomas Mueller, “when you are in the thick of it (match situation) you don’t have any time to feel any emotions. As a supporter you get much more excited because you are powerless to influence the game.  You get swept along.” So very true.  
  32. The finals: Christoph Kramer was the last minute replacement for Sami Khedira who got injured minutes before the finals. However as luck would have it, Kramer himself took a knock on the head some 20 minutes into the game. He continued playing and played in fog. He actually asked the ref if he was really playing in the World Cup finals. The ref told Schweinsteiger that Kramer needs to be subbed straight away. And he was subbed by Andre Schurrle – the man who provided the Mario Goetze assist.
  33. How to motivate, the Joachim Löw style, part 1: The cup will come with us to our hotel”, Löw keeping it simple with this message.    
  34. How to motivate, the Joachim Löw style, Part 2: “Show Messi you are better than him” was what Löw told Goetze when he came on the pitch in the World Cup finals. 
  35. Keep it simple: Simple message again from Löw to the team during the break in extra time. “No panic, play on calmly but with motivation.’ Nothing complicated here.  
  36. Bench players: They too played a special part in the team’s win even if some of them did not play a single match. The manager brought them all together. United we stand, divided we fall…  
  37. A Very German Success story: A Job well planned and executed. Indeed. And rightly summed up by the man who sort of started the revolution, “winning the World Cup is a validation of German way of life” according to Jurgen Klinsmann.  The players grow up in an environment, in a society that spurs them on to achieve things.

Bibiana Steinhaus: Performance, not gender should matter

Bibiana Steinhaus entered history books yesterday, September 10, 2017 by becoming the first woman referee to officiate in a top European football league. She was the referee in the Bundesliga game between Hertha BSC and SV Werder Bremen on Match Day 3.  She became a celebrity and was trending on social media.  So far so good.  

B Steinhaus
Bibiana Steinhaus (Photo: Reuters)

But once this initial euphoria dies down is when we will get to know the real impact of her path breaking beginning. To begin with this is 2017 and yet we have to talk about gender equality. Not just in football, in sports in general but even in other spheres of life. That there exist a gap be it in opportunities, be it in equal pay, be it just the general perception.  Women are fighting on all fronts to find their footing.

However, I want to focus here more about the world of sport, the world I am familiar with.  As a sport administrator, I have come across attitudes that are patronizing, condescending, and downright, why exactly are you here to oh, poor you. I am sure there are many other women out there in the sport industry who would have many more stories to share.  Back to Bibiana though.  

That she has broken the glass ceiling is to be appreciated. It has to be celebrated. Because hopefully she has opened the doors for many other women out there who are interested in careers as referee at the highest level. And not just in football/soccer but other sports too. Well, cricket did see women umpires standing in for men’s games. But again, it is not yet a regular thing.  

So when are we going to see Bibiana again in action in the Bundesliga? More importantly, I wonder what will be the reaction if she makes a mistake in her next game or in future matches? Will the narrative read, oh what is a woman doing in the men’s game? Will the talk be about her gender or will she be given the same benefit given to other men’s referees – they are human after all and/or incompetent? Because even while her appointment was widely accepted all around, there were still some social media posts which highlighted the gender bias (the most common question – does she know the offside rule? C’mon, give me a break, there are many men who still don’t the exact rule and no, I am not the expert either).  

While we are on subject of mistakes, two recent high profile matches (both 2016-17 season) come to mind. One the round of 16 UCL quarterfinals between Barcelona and PSG at Camp Nou and the other the UCL quarterfinals between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich at Santiago Bernabéu. Both matches involved some questionable/debatable decisions from the referees and his assistants. But all the talk was about either it being human errors and/or incompetent officiating.  I wonder if Bibiana find herself in similar situation, will it all be blamed on her gender? I genuinely hope not.  

Also, hopefully to those who it matters the most – the players on the field, it is about their confidence in her as a referee and not about her gender.

As much as we celebrate Bibiana’s achievement (and it surely it has to be applauded), I just hope in future we concentrate on her performance (or lack of it) rather than talk about her gender.  Here is to many more Bibiana Steinhaus’ on football pitches at the highest level and hope to see her on pitch soon in the Bundesliga and other competitions.  


Das Reboot – Questionnaire!

Let’s say this is my project.  During the Christmas holidays I finished reading Das Reboot by Raphael Honigstein. While I reading I had so many questions, that I wandas-reboot-e1501273453968.jpgted to stop and pen them down. But then I also wanted to finish the book as I could not resist what was in the next line, paragraph, page or chapter! So I promised myself to read it again which I did in the beginning of the summer holidays. Of course, this time with taking notes and jotting down all the questions.  So here it is, my long list of questions for the author.  And yes, I will have a separate post (will be up in a few days) about the book itself.

Rafa, here is my long list of questions. I know you are busy with Klopp’s (Bring The Noise) book. Also, it may not be possible for you to answer all the questions. Or you may choose not to answer at all.  Nonetheless, it would be great if you are able to answer at least some.

Bring the noise
Coming soon!

Or let me try this format…

First five questions compulsory; out of the remaining 30, attempt any 10. If you have time you can attempt as many as possible (or all)! Or you could even ignore this and answer whichever question(s) you want to. Best part about this questionnaire – there is no set time limit! All questions are from the syllabus, i.e. from the book!

Here is my list of questions for you, Rafa! A big thank you in advance!

  1. Urghhh…this should have been my first question to the author. How did I miss it? Would you have still written/published this book if Germany would have lost in the finals to Argentina?
  2. The World Cup at home in 2006 drove the FA into action – crises management response. If the WC was not at home, would we have seen these reforms?
  3. You mentioned that plans were sitting in the drawers, dusted. Nobody asked why they were just sitting there? Nobody thought of giving it any attention? Also, if Germany had reached the semis in France, would the plans have still sat in the drawers?
  4. How would history judge Joachim Löw? German public know him now or does he still keep a low profile? Did you speak with him for this book?
  5. How is the team spirit now? Do you believe a repeat of Euro 2012 will take place – at least in the next 2-3 decades? Also, you have written about the wonderful team spirit during 2014 WC. There absolutely were no camps/no infighting  (like you briefly mentioned the pro-Schweini/pro-Bayern, pro Khedira camps) in the team? Or this too was kept away from the media/managed to get hidden in the success.  Any friction in the coaching staff?
  6. It is not possible for any team to stay on top forever. But do you believe that Germany can ever again see the kind of slump they witnessed in the 90s or will this system that is put in place take care of itself?
  7. Was it deliberate not to have photos in the book?
  8. Rafa, when Klinsmann began his reform drive – were you convinced or you too had doubts/ you too were skeptical about his methods?
  9. How many players and coaching (talking about Germany) staff have read this book – both past and present?
  10. When Klinsmann began his tenure, he faced resistance. How do people see his methods and contribution now, especially those connected with the sport?
  11. What is Ralf Rangnick standing in German football? No, not as RB chief, but how do people perceive him now, especially all those who laughed at him in the beginning?
  12. Revolution of youth, both players and especially coaches, like young coaches in Bundesliga. Is this the result of what they saw in the late 90s when they were shunned? For example, Rangnick got the backlash and talked about the “sensitive” nature in football. Would Rangnick then now be more open to young coaches having experienced the treatment he received?
  13. Why do you say confidence is opposite of self-consciousness?
  14. Checking quotes with interviewees – is this still customary in Germany?
  15. Lothar Matthäus, is he still an outcast in German football? How is his relationship with Löw (the one who does not like conflicts!)?
  16. Dressing room stories are still leaked? (I would be surprised if they are not!)
  17. Improvement in society – Is football one of the avenues for immigrants to become part of the mainstream?
  18. Is the model for development still in place? Has it being expanded? What changes, if any, are incorporated in the model? Also, is personality development still part of academy education?
  19. From 121 regional centres it increased to 366. What is the current number?
  20. Any follow-up on this story – 1982 drug use…Algerian players’ children born with disabilities. Any possibility that this was a coverup. Football world refuses to acknowledge the problem of drug use.
  21. Would you say, Neuer is a ‘no-nonsense’ guy?
  22. Right to say, Per Mertesacker and his teammates knew they had played badly and hence he was ready for the reaction and hence that calculated outburst?
  23. Is there anyone Löw does not get along with?
  24. Why should football have been any different- what do you think is the reason? Why did it take them (the administrators) such a long time reg. Systematic in-house player development?
  25. Talent research since 2008. Is it still ongoing?
  26. What is Erich Ribbeck’s view now or was eventually when it all started to fall in place?
  27. How was it for you covering the German football soap opera – your thoughts on it.
  28. How is the relationship between Klopp and Rangnick? (keeping aside the Keita drama)
  29. Licensing is in place now for Sporting Directors? Any courses on offer?
  30. Do you think the kind of determination that we saw in 2014 WC was lacking in the Euro 2016 squad?
  31. Do you know if Bierhoff has started looking for Campo Bahia (CB) # 2?!
  32. Was Campo Bahia ready when the team arrived in Brazil? How big was the overall delegation including all the support staff that stayed put at CB?
  33. Those relationships – the social engineering process – have they survived beyond WC 2014?
  34. What is the current mood, a year away from the WC. Entitlement, hope or resignation (we can’t win it back to back?)
  35. The under-21s and the other youngsters did well recently. However, the U20s and U19s didn’t not do so well at international tournaments (U20 at WC in Korea and U19s in Euro). So the immediate future is bright and down the line is there a slight decline?

 – The End – !!!