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FOOTBALL

Ballack’s agent brands national players ‘queers’

Footballer Michael Ballack’s agent has sparked controversy by reportedly launching a bizarre homophobic attack on the German national team, branding unnamed players a “bunch of queers.”

Ballack's agent brands national players 'queers'
Photo: DPA

Lawyer Michael Becker, a close adviser to Ballack since 1999, made the remarks two months before the World Cup, according to an essay in Monday’s edition of news magazine Der Spiegel.

The remarks have fuelled concerns that, in contrast to the much lauded racial diversity and tolerance within the national team, football remains a bastion of homophobia.

The essay’s author, Alexander Osang, wrote that Becker had said during a conversation two months before the World Cup at a restaurant in Luxembourg that he knew which players on the team were gay.

A few days later, Becker told a group of journalists and players’ managers at a match played by Ballack’s new club Bayer Leverkusen that there was a former national player who was going to expose a “bunch of queers” within the national team. Osang wrote that others present had merely reacted with nods.

Later, when Osang asked Becker if another national team player was also homosexual, Becker answered that he was “half-gay.”

Osang concluded that homosexuality was “a synonym for anything that Becker did not understand.”

Apparently that included the lighter, more elegant style of play encouraged under the leadership of Germany coach Joachim Löw.

Ballack, who was injured shortly before the World Cup, spent the tournament as a spectator. Although defender Philipp Lahm filled in as skipper, Ballack remains officially the captain of the national team.

Becker told daily Bild he would neither confirm nor deny making the remarks and merely said: “The colleague from Der Spiegel must clearly have misunderstood something.”

He did not elaborate. Whether Becker was talking about the private lives of specific players or simply using offensive language is not clear, however the remarks are likely to intensify concerns that professional football remains an area where homosexuality is a taboo.

Dirk Mesch, spokesman for Bayer Leverkusen, the club where Ballack started out and to which he will return after leaving English side Chelsea FC, distanced the club from Becker’s remarks.

“At Bayer Leverkusen we have absolutely no resentment towards homosexuals,” he said.

The remarks were “personal statements by Mr Becker, which are not connected with Bayer Leverkusen,” Mesch added.

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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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