There’s one thing my coach never tired of saying to me: “Hau den Ball ins Tor hinein!” – best translated with: “Just slam it into the back of the net!” Or maybe women say to you: “Hmm, I just loooove football players…”? Maybe she does – or maybe she just likes their money. Whatever the case, football players don’t seem to have any trouble attracting women.
Tastes have changed. Before, it was your Formula 1 racing-drivers that got the girls; it was all fast cars, fast guys and even faster babes. You had drivers like Jackie Stewart, Nelson Piquet, Jody Scheckter, and Mario Andretti – proper playboys for the tabloid press. Nowadays, though, your average Formula 1 racer is nothing more than a boy without the play, the kind of clean-shaven goody-two-shoes you could introduce to your maiden aunt: just look at Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher or Lewis Hamilton. Not one of them has even a whiff of scandal on them – boring!
The situation for the tabloids got so desperate that they had to get their scandals from golf –I mean, honestly, GOLF! And to be quite frank, these scandals are not A-grade material either: Tiger Woods’ public confessions are more of a Mills & Boon paperback romance than a hot and sordid sex inferno. “Thank God”, cry the tabloid editors, “for football!” After all, you can’t go wrong with women and football – the readers love both in equal measure. And the readers’ wives love the footballers. If you don’t believe me, just wait until the World Cup this summer: your wife or girlfriend will sit there glued to the television, like you – but unlike you, she’ll be checking out the hot Brazilian players and their six-packs. And that’s why football players never have any trouble getting the girls – and that’s why the tabloids never run short of stories. The media are everywhere and happy to print anything that brings the big, unreachable football idols down to the everyday mortal level.
So football players are the playboys now. John Terry was recently caught letting his testosterone do the thinking, while Ashley Cole, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney have all had their moments in the gutter press. Entire national teams have been caught partying in the small hours with girls of questionable virtue. Then there was the whole Stefan Effenberg scandal: this already controversial figure became even more so after his adulterous dalliances with Claudia Strunz, the wife of his teammate Thomas, were revealed. And now German football has a new playboy in the form of the amorous Frenchman Franck Ribéry: and all of it went public as his team Bayern München was playing two Champions League semi-finals and trying to win the Bundesliga in its decisive phase. Now that’s what I call timing; and the fans are either loving it or hating it, but he’s got their attention whatever the case.
Without wishing to go too deep into group psychology, it’s quite possible that the whole Ribéry thing was weighing on Bayern this weekend – either that, or they were exhausted from the first leg of the Champions League clash with Lyon. Whatever the case, they lost their points lead at the top of the Bundesliga, only managing a 1:1 draw against Mönchengladbach. In fact, it’s now only goal difference that is keeping Bayern in first place.
Now, they may have a very good goal difference, but now all it will take is one slip-up in their last two matches and Schalke 04 will overtake them and win the league – the “Royal Blues”, as Schalke are known, got their points thanks to Heiko Westermann scoring in the final minutes of their match against Berlin, making it 1:0 and keeping the League Title open right until the last matches. Hertha, meanwhile, certainly didn’t play like a team that should get relegated, but they just didn’t have what it takes to really grab control of the match and close on a win: and that puts them dangerously close to the second league.
In fact, all of the teams facing relegation had problems on the 32nd day of play: Berlin lost and Hannover did too (0:3 in Leverkusen), as well as Bochum (0:2 against Stuttgart) and Nürnberg (2:3 to Dortmund). Their opponents were not in a generous mood, with all three playing to get into the international leagues. Nürnberg were beaten thanks to Dortmund’s Lucas Barrios whose attention, it would seem, is fully concentrated on nothing more than football; no women, no affairs, no scandal – and all three of Dortmund’s goals.
The only relegation candidate to win this weekend was Freiburg, who won 1:0 against VfL Wolfsburg and reignited hopes that they might stay in the top league.
Meanwhile, HSV’s ex-coach Bruno Labbadia would probably have been quite happy if his players had been too busy thinking about sex: but they were not. Instead, they were using all their mental energy to find a way of getting rid of him – and that must be why they downed tools and lost 1:5 in Hoffenheim. This means that they can write off this entire season, but they could do well on the second leg of the game against Fulham. Why? Because Labbadia went today and won’t be coaching them anymore. He’ll probably be consoling himself in the arms of a woman – perhaps even his wife.
(Stefan Reichart/Brian Melican)
For an german Bundesliga blog click blog.magazine-deutschland.de
Results Matchday 32
VfL Bochum – VfB Stuttgart 0:2
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Bayern München 1:1
1. FC Nürnberg – Borussia Dortmund 2:3
Hertha BSC Berlin – FC Schalke 04 0:1
Bayer Leverkusen – Hannover 96 3:0
1. FSV Mainz 05 – Eintracht Frankfurt 3:3
Werder Bremen – 1. FC Köln 1:0
1899 Hoffenheim – Hamburger SV 5:1
SC Freiburg – VfL Wolfsburg 1:0
1 Bayern München 64 P
2 FC Schalke 04 64 P
3 Werder Bremen 57 P
4 Bayer Leverkusen 57 P
5 Borussia Dortmund 56 P
6 VfB Stuttgart 53 P
7 Hamburger SV 48 P
8 VfL Wolfsburg 46 P
9 Eintracht Frankfurt 46 P
10 1. FSV Mainz 05 45 P
11 1899 Hoffenheim 38 P
12 Borussia Mönchengladbach 38 P
13 1. FC Köln 37 P
14 SC Freiburg 31 P
15 1. FC Nürnberg 28 P
16 VfL Bochum 28 P
17 Hannover 96 27 P
18 Hertha BSC Berlin 23 P