Germany head coach Joachim Löw announced his squad today for the Nations League game against France and the friendly against Peru, both of which take place at the start of September. Ahead of the announcement, Oliver Bierhoff spoke about this year’s World Cup. The sporting director also discussed the allegations of alienation and commercialisation surrounding the team, as in the case of Mesut Özil.
… the time after the World Cup: I wonder how it happened every day. We’ve analysed all sorts of aspects these past few weeks. I thought it important to speak to all the players involved first, but I also wanted to get the views of outsiders. One thing is clear: I’m responsible for the team’s image and the development within the team. I have to admit that we didn’t go into the competition with the right attitude; we were complacent. We took our success and the fans’ support for granted. We also thought that our success from previous years would just continue, and that the World Cup would be a sure thing. The amount of criticism that we got afterwards shows just how important the national team is to the fans. As one of the people in charge, I was under fire, and you start to wonder what you should have done differently. The criticism helped me to reflect on things. I’m disappointed that I didn’t keep up to speed with the development of the team in the past few months and handle it accordingly.
… Mesut Özil’s retirement: I spent nine wonderful years with Mesut in the national team. He’s obviously a great footballer and contributed to the success we had, including the World Cup win. I don’t agree with his accusation of racism, though. It hurt us all that he retired in the way he did and we’re sorry that the situation has played out as it has. We judged the situation wrongly. I’ve spoken to a lot of people from different backgrounds, who hold varying poltical views, and I’ve never heard such a range of opinions. What’s clear is that an international player can’t be a target for racist attacks.
… identifying with the national team: Playing for your country is something special. It’s quite simply the greatest honour. When reading the players’ statements these past few weeks, I’ve realised that they think the same thing. They’re happy and proud to wear the Germany shirt. They also wanted to have a successful World Cup; everyone prepared meticulously for the tournament. I will demand more in future. In 2006, we adopted a Code of Conduct and we lived by it for a while, but we seem to have let it go. I’m going to set clear targets for the future. We also want to get closer to the players, even the ones outside of the national team. We think of ourselves as a family; you’ve got to be a tightly-knit group in order to be successful.
… fans becoming alienated with the team: This hit me particularly hard. We played a game for the fans before the World Cup, with the players signing autographs. But we still failed to get closer to them. I take this seriously, because we don’t want to just disregard the fans. We can feel them with us. We’ll work in the future to strengthen the bond with our supporters and become more down-to-earth. We have to rebuild the relationship. I can promise that we’ll be more open as a team in October and November.
… the commercialisation of the team: I was accused of too much commercialisation of the national team. I’m responsible for the team looking good, but also for DFB increasing its revenue, of which only a small part goes into the team itself. Therefore, less revenue means less money goes towards the football itself. We didn’t do any more commercial activities at this World Cup than in 2014.
… his responsibilities: My job is a great honour with a lot of responsibility. I have to put together a team and develop strategies to ensure that we’re amongst the favourites for the European Championship in 2020. We want to become the best in the world in other areas too, for example with our youth academy. We want to talk about football again, win our fans’ enthusiasm again and put the beauty of the sport in the spotlight.