World Cup loss adds to German sense of gloom

Upset German soccer fans at a public-viewing area at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate as their team lost 0-2 to South Korea on Wednesday. It was the first time since 1938 that Germany has crashed out of the World Cup in the first round.
Upset German soccer fans at a public-viewing area at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate as their team lost 0-2 to South Korea on Wednesday. It was the first time since 1938 that Germany has crashed out of the World Cup in the first round.PHOTO: REUTERS

New blow to national pride follows woes of Merkel, auto industry, Deutsche Bank

BERLIN • Call it Germany's spoilt summer.

For all that is going well in this country of about 83 million people - a growing economy, booming real estate market and record-low unemployment - national pride has taken some crushing hits in recent weeks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, the bulwark of European stability, is fighting a rising mutiny in her own government; the once-proud auto industry is limping from one scandal to the next; and Deutsche Bank, the nation's largest lender, is cutting jobs and trying to halt its plunging share price.

Topping it off was the shock of the national football squad's humiliating World Cup defeat on Wednesday to South Korea. It was the first time since 1938 that Germany has stumbled out of the World Cup in the first round.

"I didn't expect us to win the Cup again, yet to not get past the first round is a real shocker," Mr Reiner Malberger, a visibly shaken soccer fan from Dortmund, dressed in a German national team jersey, said at a public-viewing event in Berlin.

The loss was an event of such national significance that even the Chancellor felt compelled to weigh in. "Honestly, all of us are very sad tonight," Dr Merkel said at a public event in the aftermath of the 0-2 upset at the hands of South Korea, a team that ranks 57th on the Fifa scale that is led by Germany.

Now the future of German football coach Joachim Low, who has led the squad for almost 12 years, is being called into question.

A REAL SHOCKER

I didn't expect us to win the Cup again, yet to not get past the first round is a real shocker.

MR REINER MALBERGER, a visibly shaken soccer fan from Dortmund who was at a public-viewing event in Berlin.

A SAD NIGHT FOR ALL

Honestly, all of us are very sad tonight.

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, speaking at a public event in the aftermath of the upset at the hands of South Korea.

WHAT WE DESERVED

We didn't deserve to win the title again, we didn't deserve to get into the last 16.

GERMAN COACH JOACHIM LOW, who has led the squad for almost 12 years and whose future is now in doubt.

Dr Merkel, in office for one year longer than Low, also faces an uncertain future - just three months after she cobbled together a new coalition for her fourth term.

Her Bavarian allies are threatening the stability of the government with vows to act unilaterally to get tough on migrants trying to enter the country if she does not seal a European Union-wide deal on the matter at an EU summit that started yesterday.

The banner headline from Bild, Germany's biggest newspaper, summed up the German mood yesterday morning: "Without Words!"

The story even led the super serious Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, while Der Spiegel called the team's performance a "historical disgrace".

Low, 58, said he would take time to consider his position and later added: "We didn't deserve to win the title again, we didn't deserve to get into the last 16."

Some German fans agreed.

"Today we played really, really badly, so therefore we didn't deserve to make it to the next round. It seemed the players came onto the pitch looking tired, mentally, physically," German fan Jorg Roth told Reuters TV.

While Germany mourned its humiliation on the pitch, spectators and some media abroad could not help displaying some gloating and schadenfreude.

Discount airline Ryanair used the defeat for some ambush marketing by touting its "Loew fares" for any travelling soccer fan who might have the misfortune of an early trip home, punning on an alternative spelling of Low's name.

British newspapers revelled in Germany's despair. "Schadenfreude, noun (from the German): Pleasure derived from another person's misfortune," said the front page of Britain's Sun newspaper.

The broadsheet press were more measured but still unsparing of Low and his under-performing players. "End of the world (as we know it)," said The Guardian.

The Times said: "Day the Germans just disappeared", with a photo of Son Heung-min about to shoot into the net without a single German player in the picture.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEE SPORT:

We have lost everything we built: Low

S. Korea revels in upset for the ages

No real surprise after Germany started on a Low ebb

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2018, with the headline 'World Cup loss adds to German sense of gloom'. Print Edition | Subscribe