Germany boss scores PR own-goal over Özil saga at World Cup
BERLIN - Agence France Presse
The Arsenal midfielder refused to comment about a controversial meeting on the eve of the finals with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which sparked questions about his loyalty to Germany.
Bierhoff admits it was a mistake to allow Özil to maintain his silence as the controversy cast a shadow over the German camp.
"We have never compelled players in the German national team to do something, but always tried to convince them when it comes to certain things," Bierhoff, Germany’s team director, told Friday’s edition of Die Welt newspaper.
"We did not succeed with Mesut. And in that respect one would have had to consider whether to refrain from playing him."
However, in a television interview later Friday, Bierhoff backtracked.
"First of all, I’m sorry, I was wrong," he told ZDF.
"We will not put any players in the stocks like that."
Bierhoff admitted that he and three German football association (DFB) officials had approved the quotes to Die Welt.
The embarrassing public relations own-goal is the latest example of the clumsy handling of the Erdogan scandal by the DFB.
Manchester City midfielder Gündoğan presented him with a signed club shirt on which he had written "to my president".
Gündoğan denied the meeting was politically motivated, but Özil refused to comment.
Bierhoff says the issue should have been handled better.
"They fact that Mesut and Ilkay took the pictures did not bother the team so much, but the debate went on and, in retrospect, I would have tried to deal with this issue more decisively," Bierhoff admitted in the Welt interview.
On Tuesday, Loew confirmed that he will remain as Germany’s head coach and Bierhoff also ruled out resigning on Friday.
However, as effectively the number two in the Germany setup, he anticipates "profound changes" after the dismal campaign in Russia for which he said the entire squad should take "collective responsibility".
Bierhoff says Germany’s management know they "gambled away credit" and have "registered" that fans feel alienated from the team. He said the team management take that feeling of alienation "very seriously".
Bierhoff says Loew will "sort out and reorganise everything. He will question everything, including our style of play. And then the question will arise as to which players we need."