Nowitzki joins Germany for Euro championships

Dirk Nowitzki, whose MVP heroics helped Dallas Mavericks win the NBA title, will play for Germany at the European championships, hoping to lead his country to the 2012 Olympics.

Nowitzki joins Germany for Euro championships
Photo: DPA

“The break was rather short but I want to help my young national team succeed at Euro 2011. I will try to be in my best shape,” said Nowitzki. His decision boosts Germany’s chances of qualifying for the Olympics.

Nowitzki’s participation had been in question, because it means the 33-year-old playmaker will only have had only a two-week holiday before he begins training again. He won the NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks on June 12.

German national team coach Dirk Bauermann was overjoyed at Nowitzki’s decision. “This is the most sensational and fantastic thing that I have ever witnessed from an athlete,” he told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper.

“I can’t think of any reason why he would do this to himself. But that he’s doing this for our young players shows what qualities Dirk has,” he said.

The two finalists at the August 31 to September 18 European event in Lithuania will qualify automatically for the Olympics with the third to sixth-place finishers going into a qualifying tournament.

AFP/The Local/bk

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New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs

Germany's Defence Minister on Tuesday vowed to severely punish soldiers stationed in Lithuania who were accused of singing racist and anti-Semitic songs, if the allegations turned out to be true.

New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs
German soldiers training in Saxony-Anhalt in May. credit: dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

“Whatever happened is in no way acceptable,” said Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Those implicated would be “vigorously prosecuted and punished”, she added.

The Spiegel Online news site had on Monday reported that German soldiers in Lithuania sang racist and anti-Semitic songs during a party at a hotel in April.

One had also sought to sexually assault another soldier while he was asleep, a scene which was caught on film, said Spiegel.

According to Spiegel Online, the scenes took place at a party at which soldiers consumed large quantities of alcohol. They are also alleged to have arranged a “birthday table” for Adolf Hitler on April 20th and to have sung songs for him.

It is unclear to what extent more senior ranked soldiers were aware of the incidents.

Three soldiers have been removed from the contingent stationed in the Baltic country and an investigation is ongoing to identify other suspects, said the report.

The German armed forces have been repeatedly rocked by allegations of right-wing extremism within their ranks.

Kramp-Karrenbauer last year ordered the partial dissolution of the KSK commando force after revelations that some of its members harboured neo-Nazi sympathies.

SEE ALSO: Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination