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FOOTBALL

German women’s football team out for elusive gold in Beijing

World Cup champions Germany will be searching for the one major football crown that has eluded them when the women’s football tournament opens the Beijing Olympic Games on Wednesday.

German women's football team out for elusive gold in Beijing
Photo: DPA

But coach Silvia Neid refrained from making any bold predictions when she selected a vastly experienced Games squad of 16 players all from the victorious team who defended the World Cup title in China last year. Along with perennial rivals and two-times Olympic champions the United States, she also singled out Brazil, Norway, Korea, Sweden and China as all strong contenders in the 12-team competition.

“At least I am convinced that we have a very strong team for the Olympics,” said Neid whose so-called “golden generation” of players include star defender Ariane Hingst, playmaker Renate Lingor and striker Birgit Prinz.

Football, which kicks off two days before the official Games opening because of its packed schedule, features the world’s top women players unlike the men’s competition which has an under-23 age restriction.

The German women have a packed trophy cabinet including the past two World Cups and four UEFA women’s championships, but they have only two bronze medals from the three Olympic Games where women’s football has been contested. At Olympic level, the United States have an impressive record, winning in 1996 and 2004 and being beaten by Norway by a sudden-death goal in the 2000 final.

They have also retained most of the squad who won the play-off for third in last year’s World Cup although notably they are without striker Abby Wambach who broke her leg in a pre-Olympics friendly with Brazil and pregnant captain Kristine Lilly.

The United States will enjoy a relatively easier pool than Germany, being grouped with Sydney Olympic champions Norway along with Japan and New Zealand. Germany will be tested in the “pool of death” with a first-up game against Brazil followed by North Korea and Africa champions Nigeria. Hosts China head the third pool which includes Argentina, Canada and Sweden. Asia’s traditional standard-bearers and silver medallists in Athens, completed their Olympic build-up with a 0-0 draw in a friendly with the United States.

Behind Germany and the United States, Brazil loom as a potent force led by outstanding striker Marta Vieira da Silva, the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007.

She was also the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe winner in last year’s World Cup where Brazil were beaten 0-2 by Germany in the final, following their 1-2 loss to the United States in the previous Olympic final.

FOOTBALL

British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.

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