Final preparations are in full swing ahead of the Germany’s opening match against Brazil at the Tokyo Olympics (13:30 CEST). Following today’s friendly against Honduras that was abandoned with the score at 1-1, head coach Stefan Kuntz and Maximilian Arnold sat down for a digital press conference and spoke about the racist abuse of Jordan Torunarigha that occurred during the match.
Stefan Kuntz on…
…the racist abuse: It’s something we cannot tolerate. Walking off the pitch together is our clear message regarding the incident. It makes no difference when it happens in a match, racism simply has no place in football. That’s what we told the referee. After the situation had calmed down, the Honduras team came to our bench to apologise and that’s the end of the matter for us. We don’t intend to take any further steps.
…the incident itself: Shortly before the end of the match, there was a scuffle and I ran over to Jordan. He told me he had been repeatedly racially abused. That is against everything we stand for and we decided on the spot that we would not tolerate it. Walking off the pitch together was our response.
…the aftermath and Torunarigha’s reaction: His teammates hugged him for a few minutes and you could see he was very upset. At the same time, it was clear that the support of the team meant a lot too. Of course, it always helps in situations like this when you have your teammates there to support you. The boys were there when he needed them and they did a great job of comforting him. It was very good on the part of Jordan and the whole team to say that enough was enough and not to continue playing as if nothing had happened.
…the friendly: Honduras have been here in Japan for a while and they have a good team. Our team hadn’t played together before this, but every player got an hour of football in and they all did well. It was a physically intense match and we can take a lot of positives away from it for the opening match against Brazil. Honduras scored after creating two chances while we created seven or eight and equalised through Uduokhai from a corner. I was pleased with the attitude. Everyone knows which areas they need to work on now.
…the tactics: We tried out some different things and based some of it on the European U21 Championship tactics. As far as tactical flexibility is concerned, we don’t have to practice everything because we have more mature players here in terms of quality and experience.
…the flooding in Germany: The DFB has set up a relief fund together with the DFL. The helpers and the affected families are in our thoughts and we hope that the situation will improve soon.
…preparations for Brazil: We have more to go on with Brazil because they have been playing together for a long time, so that makes it a bit easier for us to prepare. That’s not the case with Saudi Arabia and Ivory Coast as we don’t have as much information about their teams. I’m happy to rely on the creativity and flexibility of my team though.
Maximilian Arnold on…
…the racist incident: I wasn’t on the pitch at the time, so I didn’t notice it at first. I think we made the right decision by leaving the pitch together.
…the game: We’ve only had three days of training so far, so it was a good run-out today. Of course, there are still a few areas we can work on though.
…acclimatising to the Japanese summer: It’s a special climate here and I wasn’t expecting it to be so humid. But we have to make the best of it.
…the time difference: I have two children, so I'm glad when I don't have to get up at night. It's nice to be woken up by the alarm clock again. (laughs)
…the atmosphere in Japan: We’re not really aware of what the atmosphere is like yet. We’re in the hotel all the time and only go to the training ground and back. Testing for COVID-19 happens every morning and everyone wears a mask all the time, even in the hotel. That’s something they’re really focusing on. There's also a giant spider here, that's the craziest local feature I've seen here so far. (laughs)
…the flooding in Germany: We’re all aware of what’s going on back home and we’d like to say thank you to everyone who is helping to improve the situation.