In 2018, the German national team had an infamous divide in their locker room with one side being referred to as “Bling Bling”, while the other group was labeled as “The Bavarians.”
The Jets vs. The Sharks...it was not.
These days, that kind of nonsense would probably be welcomed by former Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick.
According to a report from Sport1 (as captured by @iMiaSanMia), Germany held a contentious discussion among the squad in the days leading up to the World Cup that revolved around what kind of statement to make in wake of FIFA banning the “OneLove” armband.
Not everyone wanted to take the focus off of the game...even if only for a second:
Ilkay Gündogan and Antonio Rüdiger belonged to the group of the players that originally did not want to protest and preferred to focus on football. These differences of opinion led to tensions and created small groups within the team, but that now has been settled.
Tension ahead of the Japan game probably was not what Flick had in mind, but this was a controversial and delicate subject for the German squad, which has taken strong stances on social issues in recent years.
Of all people, it was Jonas Hofmann, who offered up his account of what went down.
“We talked a lot about politics. At some point, we said that we have to focus on our job. That’s why we’re here. We worked through everything meticulously and addressed things that weren’t going so well,” Hofmann said.
In modern times, we often hear “stick to sports” levied at players by fans, who don’t want their social issues, politics, religion, etc. intertwined with their sporting events. In this case, however, it was the players themselves who could not agree on if they should react to FIFA’s ruling.
To “stick to sports” or to not? That was the question.
It is hard to fault any player who wants to use their platform to speak out on a particular issue, but some other players might truly just want to focus on the game — which is also their right.
This particular World Cup has come under scrutiny for a number of reasons. Players are caught in the tug o’ war between issues at hand and the actual tournament. Perhaps, this World Cup was doomed from the start as this kind of situation seems unavoidable.
In any locker room, you will never have a consensus on any issue. Unfortunately for Germany, the lack of agreeance on this matter did appear to cause some strife, though Sport1 does indicate all of the parties are now back on the same page — which could mean bad things for Costa Rica.