German Consul General in Mumbai talks philosophy, football and shock World Cup defeat

Jun 29, 2018, 08:14 IST | Hemal Ashar

The Koreans sent the German giants careening out of the competition, making it the first time since 1938 that Germany went out of the contest in the first stage

German Consul General in Mumbai talks philosophy, football and shock World Cup defeat
German national football supporters react to the team's defeat in Berlin. Pic/AFP

Shockwaves were felt all across in Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Mumbai too, as the football World Cup took an unexpected turn on Wednesday night. Dr (PhD) Juergen Morhard, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in the city, was watching the Germany vs South Korea FIFA World Cup 2018 match at a public viewing hosted by The German Consulate and the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce. The Koreans sent the German giants careening out of the competition, making it the first time since 1938 that Germany went out of the contest in the first stage. There’s always a first time for everything but this is a first that has left German supporters with that ashes-on-the-tongue feeling. Morhard said a trifle philosophically when asked about a reaction, “I was disappointed about the early tournament exit. But this is sport! In sport, as in life, there are always ups and downs.”

Key takeaways
Looking beyond that one defeat he rationalised, “I have to say though that the German team did not look nor played like serious contenders for the World Cup in all three group matches.” Morhard analysed, "Luck was not on the side of the German footballers, many chances were missed overall and one saw several missed shots at goal in the South Korea match, the fluidity was missing.” Even as football experts are dissecting the defeat threadbare, there has been an avalanche of criticism about German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s tactic of joining the offense, leaving the goal bereft as a desperate Germany looked for an equaliser out of regulation time. One of the kinder comments has been, ‘Neuer has always been a loose cannon.’

Consul General Juergen Morhard
Consul General Juergen Morhard 

Morhard though was stoic in defence as he justified the 'hey-where's-the-goalie? moment’, "That was certainly the right thing to do at that moment: throwing all forces forward to score last minute!"

‘This will motivate the team’
Asked for takeaways from the match the sporting Consul General added, "Germany was in shock yesterday. This will motivate the German football team to come back better and stronger. We will work hard and come out stronger four years down the line. Luck favours the brave. We will hopefully, be better prepared in 2022. The biggest lesson we learn is that being the reigning champion does not guarantee success four years later."

The Consul General said when asked about his sporty background that, “I have played basketball, and enjoyed windsurfing for many years. I have a lifelong passion for competitive tennis. These days, I play golf. Although I follow football, it was not so much my thing as I did not enjoy the outdoor sessions during German winters.”

Sporting relations
Morhard said in response to a question about what India could learn from a sporting powerhouse like Germany. The question focused on a sporting ethos and ethic rather than a particular discipline. “It is easy to sit back and recommend things one must do. Yet, India is bigger in terms of population and shares different ideals. So the solutions can’t necessarily be the same. The first thing though I want to say is: think sport! Indian society must acknowledge that sport can make for a worthwhile and rewarding career. Parents should encourage their children to play more. Schools and colleges should make sport compulsory. Sport is beneficial for health, it is great for community building. It teaches discipline, fair play and team spirit… Sport should be considered a basic human right, and space must be allocated for it.”

Bringing international relations into his reasoning the Consul General said, “It’s good to see that football slowly but surely is gaining popularity here, at the same time India is trying to revive traditional sports like kabaddi. We, at the Consulate, are encouraging of sport exchange programs between India and Germany. After all why should relations between countries be only about business and trade negotiations?”

Even as you say touché to that, Morhard knows its going to be a bittersweet last 16 for German supporters, as World Cup 2018 moves on. Yet, laughed the sportsman always ready to look at the larger picture, “Germany may not have made it to the round of 16, but I look forward to some top-quality matches from here on. I wish all of us have a great FIFA season. The spirit of sport lives on.”

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