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German World Cup bid hit by string of scandals

AFP · 29 May 2014, 13:35

Published: 29 May 2014 13:35 GMT+02:00

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Head coach Joachim Löw took his squad to a luxury, five-star hotel in south Tirol's St. Leonhard for 10 days to prepare his stars for their World Cup Group G campaign, which starts on June 16 against Portugal in Salvador.

Yet a series of unfortunate incidents have left some squad members seeking the services of the team's sports psychologist Hans-Dieter Hermann.

Defender Kevin Großkreutz caused a scandal just before the camp started by urinating in the foyer of a Berlin hotel after the German Cup final, the same match where captain Philipp Lahm and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer picked up worrying injuries.

Löw was also hit with a six-month driving ban as the German Football Association (DFB) daily press conferences became an exercise in damage limitation.

But the worst was still to come on Tuesday when a 63-year-old German was seriously injured after being hit by a car driven by professional touring car racer Pascal Wehrlein, 19, with Germany centre-back Benedikt Höwedes as his passenger.

A course steward was also hurt in the accident during the Mercedes sponsored event, which included Formula One star and Monaco Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg, on the grounds of the team hotel.

The product presentation, which had allowed Germany's World Cup stars to hitch a ride with professional drivers, quickly turned into a public relations nightmare for both Mercedes and the DFB.

"Of course, the situation was a shock for me," the 26-year-old Höwedes said after the crash.

"The images will stay in my head for a long time. I have talked it over with the coach, the team and the backroom staff. My thoughts are with those injured and their families."

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff said Höwedes and attacking midfielder Julian Draxler, who also witnessed the crash, had spoken to the team's psychologist, while the DFB are set to review future sponsors events.

Local police are still busy finding out how an individual could have wandered onto the private course, which was closed to all other traffic and was marshalled.

The car crash grabbed the headlines in the German media, overshadowing Tuesday's good news that Lahm put in his first 25 minutes of training since an ankle knock in the German Cup final 10 days ago.

But Neuer's shoulder injury looks to be a real concern and he is doubtful for Sunday's friendly against Cameroon in Mönchengladbach.

"It will take a while before Manu's shoulder can really be tested, I am not counting on an appearance from him here (in the training camp)," admitted Bierhoff.

Story continues below…

The German squad had arrived in south Tirol last Wednesday with a cloud over Großkreutz after Borussia Dortmund reportedly fined him 60,000 euros ($81,600) for urinating in the reception of a high-class Berlin hotel.

According to reports, police had to be called after the Germany star argued with fellow guests in the early hours following his side's German Cup final loss to Bayern Munich the night before.

"I'm sorry, I had a black-out," a sheepish Großkreutz told German daily Bild.

His coach Löw said the matter was closed, only for the 54-year-old to then have to defend himself after it emerged he had collected 18 points in driving infringements - earning him a ban.

The timing of Löw 's news was not helped as it came the morning of the serious car crash.

Löw had hoped the north Italian Alps in May would help acclimatize his squad for the fierce heat of Brazil's north coast.

But heavy rain blighted Tuesday evening's session leaving a soggy Löw to instruct his stars on the sodden training pitch.

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