You can sit down if you don’t play for Germany. Michael Becker isn’t talking about you.
Becker, agent for former German captain Michael Ballack, caused a minor ruckus by claiming that several members of the German national team are gay or in his words, “half-gay”.
The inflammatory statements were made to Aleksander Osang of Der Spiegel two months ago.
…Becker told a group of agents and journalists in the Bayer clubhouse that there was a former player on the national team who was about to go public with the names of “the gay combo.” I expected my fellow journalists to be all ears, but they seemed relatively blasé about Becker’s remark. It seemed that every sports journalist was already familiar with the alleged homosexual conspiracy swirling around German coach Joachim Löw’s team. The rumors accompanied the team to South Africa. They are apparently part of the package.
Osang suspects that the rumors are connected to Germany’s different style as opposed to past teams which weren’t as exciting to watch. The team is multi-cultural and plays with more flair than ever. Many people, including myself, noted how much easier it was to support them in this tournament. No more “Eins, Zwei, Smash!” It was efficient and often deadly but not the most attractive soccer to watch. Let’s be honest. It’s also next to impossible to root for players like Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann.
…When [Osang] asked him whether he thought that a player whose nomination to the team had come as something of a surprise was gay, Becker said: “He’s half-gay.” When he said that, I realized that all of this was somehow synonymous with something Becker could no longer understand. It was something that was light, non-ideological, dance-like, beautiful, joyful, and easily confusing for someone whose life had revolved around pecking orders and hierarchies until then.
There’s also the suspicion that Becker is paranoid due to his diminishing influence. Ballack is his last big client so it’s in his interest to protect his brand. Neither he nor the former German captain took not playing in South Africa well. It’s apparent that the squad played better without him. They were able to play a faster, more flowing game that allowed them to attack and counter with a speed not customary to the Mannschaft (German name for the national team). The thought of becoming irrelevant is probably confusing and frustrating to Ballack and petrifying to Becker.
There is, of course, the real underlying issue. So what if a player or several players are gay? The only thing that matters how they perform on the pitch. There’s no need to rehash the difficulties gay athletes avoiding abuse. It’s no wonder that most wait until they retire before they announce their sexuality and it’s hard to blame them in the current climate. The Bundesliga and Premier League are no different than the NFL or NBA. Intolerance towards gays abounds in professional sports be it from fellow players or supporters. Think of the courage it took for Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas to come out of the closet. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he can kick most people’s asses.
Statements like Becker’s do nothing but encourage continued discrimination. Professional and amateur leagues need to tackle homophobia in the same way they’ve dealt with racism, Spain and Italy excluded. Castleford Rugby Club was smacked with a £40,000 fine after its supporters taunted Thomas with homophobic chants. There are so many other ways to personally attack players without resorting to racism and homophobia, people. Let’s get back to Posh taking it up the arse or Scousers stealing hubcaps and radios.
Germans and soccer fans should be embracing this new-look German team and salute what they were able to do and how they were able to do it. Second loser is still pretty good. There may be disappointment but there should be no shame in losing to the champions. This is the new and frankly better Germany whether Becker likes it or not.
By the way, have you seen Everton’s new away kits? Holy shit, they’re gay. Damn. My bad.