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Mario Gomez tells gay footballers to come out

German national footballer Mario Gomez on Wednesday encouraged fellow players to come out of the closet if they are gay – something no active professional has yet done publicly.

Mario Gomez tells gay footballers to come out
Photo: DPA

The website of weekly newspaper Die Zeit reported that the 25-year-old Bayern Munich striker addressed the taboo of homosexuality in men’s sports, contradicting colleagues who have suggested such a move could ruin a player’s career.

“They would then play as though they’d been unshackled,” Gomez told magazine Bunte. “Being gay hasn’t been a taboo topic for a while.”

It’s an open secret that there are homosexual footballers in Germany’s Bundesliga, according to Die Zeit, but there are no openly gay players.

“We have a gay Vice Chancellor, the Berlin mayor is gay,” Gomez said, referring to Guido Westerwelle and Klaus Wowereit. “So football professionals should also acknowledge their preference.”

Two of Gomez’s national teammates have spoken against coming out of the closet in the last year.

Werder Bremen Goalkeeper Tim Wiese said in April that such a player would be put down by “merciless” fans of a “macho” sport and Bayern defender Philipp Lahm told Playboy last year that the pressure would be too great for such players.

“The player who would out himself now has to do his job in front of tens of thousands of spectators,” he told the magazine. “Guido Westerwelle doesn’t play football in front of 60,000 fans every weekend.”

The German Football Association (DFB) has also admitted that openly gay players would be confronted with major challenges.

“The first in professional football who outs himself as a homosexual will not have an easy path,” said DFB president Theo Zwanziger in a newspaper interview in December 2009, according to Die Zeit.

But Zwanziger also pledged to support any player who chooses to do so with all of the Bundesliga’s resources, the paper said.

On Sunday, Tatjana Eggeling, a media and gender studies expert at the University of Göttingen, told a sports show on broadcaster ZDF that she knew of fake heterosexual marriages set up for gay footballers in Germany and beyond to hide their sexual preferences.

While she wouldn’t name any players, Eggeling said there were even agencies to set up the terms of such marriage contracts.

The Local/ka

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Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world. 

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