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First German minister boycotts Euro 2012

The Local · 8 May 2012, 08:13

Published: 08 May 2012 08:13 GMT+02:00

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Dirk Niebel told Tuesday's edition of Die Welt he wanted to send a "political message", adding: "that is why I am skipping my planned visit to a game by the German national team in Ukraine."

He said that Kiev had expressed a will to move closer to European values and standards and could now show "how seriously it takes these commitments," according to a pre-released copy of the interview.

The announcement came during a visit to Berlin by the daughter of Ukraine's jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko for meetings with German political officials in a bid to raise the issue of her mother's plight.

Germany has been at the forefront of international criticism of Kiev's treatment of Tymoshenko who was jailed for seven years in October on charges that European Union leaders view as politically motivated.

The 2004 Orange Revolution leader, who has complained of debilitating back pain since being jailed, also launched a hunger strike on April 20 over an alleged beating in prison.

"It is wrong to lock people up in prison because of political convictions," Niebel, who is a member of the pro-business Free Democrats, a junior partner in the governing centre-right coalition, said.

German President Joachim Gauck has rejected an invitation to a May 11-12 Yalta summit meeting while German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly considering ordering ministers not to attend matches.

She told a newspaper last week that she would decide whether to attend the Ukraine-held games at the last minute.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov Monday slammed Euro boycott calls in the country, which co-hosts the championships with Poland starting June 8, as humiliating to the Ukrainian people.

A Ukrainian daily newspaper close to the party of President Viktor Yanukovych Friday published an editorial accusing Germany of not changing since the Third Reich and still trying to dictate its rule.

Germany coach Joachim Löw Monday joined national captain Philipp Lahm in criticising Ukraine over Tymoshenko.

Story continues below…

Löw, who also announced his preliminary squad for the tournament on Monday, told reporters that a boycott of the European championships by any team was "clearly not sensible" but that the political situation in Ukraine was of concern.

Germany, which is among the favourites to win Euro 2012, will play all three of their opening games in Ukraine.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:44 May 8, 2012 by siddal
We should be completely unconcerned that a minister chooses to boycott this competition.

Despite the headline news event he seems to have created he might as well tell us he´s decided to stop picking his nose. There´s no news value in his statement

What should scare us is if politicians decide they can influence the whole event: -even have it cancelled or moved.

If politics ever seeks to use sport for its(politics) own ends then we´re all done for
09:22 May 8, 2012 by catjones
If germany stays out of countries they disagree with, there will be only home games......and some of them too.
09:43 May 8, 2012 by minga
Dear Politicians,

First stop doing business with Ukraine. Or impose economic sanctions. Then start mixing political correctness and sports.

Or continue with your hypocracy.
09:54 May 8, 2012 by Bigfoot76
"A Ukrainian daily newspaper close to the party of President Viktor Yanukovych Friday published an editorial accusing Germany of not changing since the Third Reich and still trying to dictate its rule."

Greece makes remarks about German history, Ukraine does it as well. Clearly there are 2 countries with media unable to come up with anything original, intelligent, or relevant to say to the public. I guess any 10 year old can work in the media in these places.
11:38 May 8, 2012 by The-ex-pat
@ 09:54 May 8, 2012 by Bigfoot76

You forgot the UK tabloids as well, the Sun and the Daily Mail, both convinced that the war only ended yesterday.
17:08 May 8, 2012 by Sastry.M
Did the German politicians visit Guantanamo and Abugraib prisons collectively or individually? And for NoW is the issue of abuse is closed forever.
02:39 May 9, 2012 by jeff10renatus
Gee, what about oppressed muslime women? What will Germany do for them? Boycott camel races?
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