Germany stars Podolski and Ballack face off in on-field tussle

The German national football team won against Wales in Wednesday night’s World Cup qualifying game, but star players Michael Ballack and Lukas Podolski had an unseemly confrontation that got physical during the 2-0 victory.

Germany stars Podolski and Ballack face off in on-field tussle
Photo: DPA

In the game’s 67th minute, tensions between Podolski and Ballack came to a head. Team captain Ballack gave the Munich attacker Podolski tactical instructions, and Podolski reacted with surly slap on Ballack’s cheek. Per Mertesacker, Simon Rolfes and Philipp Lahm rushed in to break up the fight between their teammates.

“For us as a team it’s important to watch out for each other,” Mertesacker said. “In this kind of situation as well, when there are differences of opinion then someone has to go in there and get between them.”

According to national team manager Oliver Bierhoff, coach Joachim Löw opted not to respond to the incident. Ballack and Podolski ironed out their differences in the locker room.

“The most important thing is, nothing stuck,” Bierhoff said on Thursday in Cardiff. The DFB-Eleven’s management consulted the team about the incident before bringing in Podolski and Ballack. “We made it clear that this kind of incident casts us in the wrong kind of light,” Bierhoff said. “In three minutes, it was done. They looked deep into each other’s eyes and high-fived.”

Podolski will not be fined by the German Football Federation (DFB) for the incident either, Bierhoff said.

But Ballack criticized Podolski’s on-field conduct. “I had something to say to him that he didn’t really agree with.” He added, “He has a lot left to learn, he’s still a young player.” Ballack refused to provide more detail of his heated conversation with Podolski.

“Lukas knows that it’s inexcusable to interact with a captain that way,” Bierhoff said, and Podolski later apologised.

“I don’t see anything there,” DFB head Theo Zwanziger said. “We won 2 to 0, that’s what is important in this game. The incident happened, you can report on it, but that’s really not what is most important.”

Driving Germany’s 2-0 victory was Michael Ballack, with a goal scored early in the game. Mario Gomez, recovering from a long scoring dry spell, managed to hit a point off of a Wales defender who kicked the ball into his own net. The win secured the German team a spot at the top of the tables in their World Cup qualifying group.

The next game for Ballack and his team will take place in August in Azerbaijan.


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.