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FOOTBALL

Ballack’s national team career finished

Michael Ballack, one of the best-known players in German football for the past decade, has played for the national side for the last time, the German Football Association (DFB) said Thursday.

Ballack's national team career finished
Photo: DPA

“Michael Ballack will no longer be a part of the German national squad,” the DFB said in a statement.

“I have discussed things openly with Michael Ballack, most recently in our meeting in March 2011 and in numerous phone calls,” coach Joachim Löw said.

“With the Euro 2012 season about to start,” Löw added, “the time has come for me to make a clear statement.”

The former Chelsea and Bayern Munich midfielder, 34, has not played for Germany since March 2010, and in terms of performance at least, his absence has not been felt.

Injured in a brutal tackle by Portsmouth’s Kevin-Prince Boateng in the English Premier League’s FA Cup final, Ballack played no part in the World Cup last year, when Germany played some of the best football of the tournament to finish third.

And in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2012 hosted by Poland and Ukraine, Germany are sitting pretty at the top of their qualifying group with a 10-point lead, virtually assuring a berth in the European championships.

In his place, Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm has captained the German side.

“Recent months have shown that lots of young players with promising futures have appeared on the scene,” Löw said. “Since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa the development of the national team has been absolutely positive.”

“Michael Ballack was for a decade a very important leading player in the national side and contributed enormously to the great successes of the team after the 2002 World Cup,” added Löw, coach since 2006.

“He shaped an era and as captain always put himself at the service of the team, as I was able to witness at close quarters at the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008.”

German media reports had hinted Ballack would play his 99th – and final game – for Germany against Brazil in a friendly in Stuttgart in August.

But Löw’s latest comments suggest Ballack’s career will finish with 98 caps and 42 goals for his country, having made his debut in 1999.

Ballack played for Bayern Munich from 2002 and 2006 before moving to Chelsea for a four-year stint at Stamford Bridge. Last season he returned to Germany to play for Bayer Leverkusen, but fractured his leg in only his third game back.

AFP/adn

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SPORTS

German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

Bundesliga clubs and other German sports venues will be allowed to welcome up to 25,000 spectators from next month, the city of Berlin said Tuesday after a meeting of officials from Germany's 16 states.

German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season
Germany fans at the recent Euro 2020 match in London. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

Most matches in Germany’s top football league were played behind closed doors last season – so-called Geisterspiele or ghost games – because of the Covid-19 virus.

The new Bundesliga season starts on August 13th and with infection rates having fallen sharply, sports stadiums could be at 50 percent capacity, with the total number per match or event capped at 25,000.

The only exception is reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, where up to 20,000 fans will be allowed into home games at the 75,000-capacity Allianz Arena because officials in Bavaria are allowing only 35 percent of capacity.

The new rules apply until September 11 and amid concerns in Germany about the Delta variant of the coronavirus, incidence rates must not exceed 35 new infections per 100,000 people over the previous seven days.

READ ALSO: German states call for uniform Covid rules at big events

If that happens, and “the infection cannot be clearly contained”, a maximum of 5,000 spectators will be allowed into sports events, German officials warned.

Only fans who can prove they are vaccinated or present a negative test will be allowed into stadiums and hygiene rules must be followed.

An easing of the regulations meant crowds of around 14,000 were allowed to attend Euro 2020 matches at Munich’s Allianz Arena over the last three weeks, but fans were largely kept out of German league games last season.

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