When Joachim Löw took his unprecedented decision to axe Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, and Thomas Müller from the national team setup, it certainly ruffled feathers. We’ve already heard criticism from Bayern Munich, Serge Gnabry, and two out of three of the aforementioned players. Now, it was Hummels’ turn to speak out.
Taking to social media, the World Cup winning center-back reiterated the love he had for the national team and how much he enjoyed playing for his country. However, reading between the lines, it’s easy to get the impression that Hummels disagrees not only with Löw’s decision but especially with the way in which it was handled.
Here’s what he said:
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Mit etwas Abstand möchte auch ich mich zu der Entscheidung des Bundestrainers äußern. Unabhängig von der aus meiner Sicht schwer nachvollziehbaren sportlichen Entscheidung (die ich natürlich respektiere), stößt die Art und Weise bei mir auf Unverständnis. Nach meinem Dafürhalten hatte ich zu den handelnden Personen beim DFB immer ein gutes Verhältnis und wir sind stets fair miteinander umgegangen. Thomas, Jerome und ich haben jahrelang alles für die Nationalmannschaft gegeben und dieser Umgang wird dem, was wir geleistet und erreicht haben, in meinen Augen nicht gerecht. Und das lässt mich alles andere als kalt, weil ich es geliebt habe, für Deutschland zu spielen! Für mich kann ich sagen: es waren wunderbare Jahre, 70 Länderspiele, die alles, was ich mir als Kind einmal erträumt hatte, bei weitem übersteigen. Insgesamt vier große Turniere, bei denen ich mitwirken durfte. Gekrönt von dem Gewinn der Weltmeisterschaft 2014. Dieses Gefühl werde ich für immer in mir tragen und ich hätte wirklich gerne nochmal ALLES dafür gegeben, etwas Vergleichbares zu wiederholen.
Hummels’ statement reads in translation as follows:
With a little distance, I also want to comment on the decision of the national coach. Regardless of the sporting decision, which is in my view difficult to understand (but which I of course respect), the way (in which it was done) leaves me baffled.
In my opinion, I always had a good relationship with everyone involved at the DFB and we have always treated each other fairly.
Thomas, Jerome, and I have given everything to the national team for years, and in my eyes, this treatment does not do justice to what we’ve accomplished and achieved. And that leaves me anything but cold, because I loved playing for Germany!
As for myself, I can say: they were wonderful years, 70 international matches that far surpassed everything that I once dreamed of as a child. A total of four major tournaments that I participated in, crowned by winning the World Cup in 2014. I’ll carry that feeling inside forever, and I really would have loved to do EVERYTHING again to repeat something similar.
In truth, Hummels was far tamer than he could have been, considering the circumstances. He and Boateng are still in their prime, and could have easily contributed to the German setup for several years longer. A pivot to youth is understandable — Niklas Sule is already Bayern’s first choice center-back ahead of the 2014 duo — but the manner in which it was done is both disrespectful and nonsensical.
It’s one thing to gradually phase out older players in favor of younger ones, it’s quite another to push out proven champions in the prime of their careers with no hope of return. Shouldn’t the next generation have to earn their spots by beating out their predecessors, as Niklas Süle did at Bayern? If they really are good enough, then why axe the veterans? Just bench them and allow them back in if the performances merit it.
This action by Löw is rightfully receiving backlash because of how vindictive it is. After the DFB shamefully tried to blame their failures on Mesut Özil last summer, Löw is trying to deflect from his own failings by suddenly removing three popular names from the roster. Instead of announcing his intention to call up young blood like Philipp Max or Niklas Stark, this is the step he chooses.
Hopefully, more players speak out about this issue, and with even stronger words than Mats used. Die Mannschaft is in the midst of a crisis in leadership, and nothing is being done beyond papering over ever wider cracks.