“You are always a national player.” It is a nice sentence that Hansi Flick gave his players as a maxim for all situations in life: It is less about the self-esteem of a particular species than about the feeling for how to be Has to move and behave in the exposed role as a national player, not least outside of the football field. On the occasion of the occasion, national team director Oliver Bierhoff also quoted Flick’s imperative on Wednesday. The fact that when the team arrived in Hamburg on Tuesday Antonio Rüdiger was the only one from the team who fulfilled the fans waiting for selfies and autographs in front of the hotel, had caused critical inquiries in this context – keyword: proximity to fans.
The answers given by the players were remarkable. For example from Thomas Müller, who said on Tuesday that he “is still very cautious about direct contact”. Specifically: Müller’s personal corona traffic light is red for autographs, and green for selfies at a distance of two meters.
Jonas Hofmann became even clearer. From the words of the Gladbacher spoke a fundamental unease about the impression that “many see Corona as if it was completely over”. He would like to give autographs, said Hofmann, but against the background of vaccination breakthroughs, he strongly advocated that everyone “follow along” for a while when it comes to rules and recommendations. An attitude that, with a view to autumn and winter, one would wish to be copied beyond football.
The burning question of football
So there is still a “team caution” in football, which Christian Seifert, the managing director of the German Football League, recently brought into the proximity of a “team unfamiliar to the world”. However, the two examples show something else: Before Corona, everyone is in a certain way the same, and from individual conflicts and questions of conscience about what the right behavior is, it does not help if you belong to a particularly privileged group. In Müller’s case, not even if you’ve already been infected with the virus.
How much closeness is possible and how much distance is necessary? This burning question, that much is certain, will accompany football through the cold season. Bierhoff sounded much more relaxed in this regard than the national players had reported from Tim Meyer, the team doctor and head of the special game operations task force, and thus quite in line with the general trend.
Players like Müller and Hofmann do not want to follow that easily. By articulating their concerns, they managed a little trick: by keeping the fans at a distance, they let them get very close in a different way.