Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Good German

Jens Lehmann's situation as an analogy to Hope Solo's (though many things are different) was referenced in the comments of an earlier post.

I also got an email from Billy Witz, another soccer writer, about it.

I can't help but wonder if Greg Ryan were coaching
Arsenal, would Jens now be eating fish-n-chips by
himself off in the corner?

Both Eric Wynalda and another commenter mentioned that open opinion seems to be standard in German culture. Whatever the German philosophy is about tolerating dissention, it doesn't appear to have hobbled their national team performance in any way.


jason said...

I think it is a very strong reason for German sporting success. I should say that I was working in an academic context, in which disagreements are sought as interesting in and of themselves. Nevertheless, the country is described as having a --Streitkultur-- and we saw that in the World Cup when Ballack openly disagreed with Klinsmann during the tournament. (He wasn't angry as Solo mind you.) Klinsmann's predecessor, Rudi Völler, faced calls to step down when he skipped a television show in which he was to sit at a table with some beers and argue about the game and team.

This is so much better than our coach-as-dictator model, which is prevalent in youth sports.

If Solo hadn't spoken up, there would have speculation about her. Familiar soccer stuff. Was she out late? Is there some sort of problem?

Without a club that shows her skill later, Solo would have begun to look like yesterday's news.

ghostwriter said...

Let's not go too overboard in praise of the "openness" in German culture. This is a relatively new posture for that society, at least historically speaking. The Prussian absolute obediance to authority that unified the literally hundreds of German speaking principalities into a single nation and then carried on into the great conflicts of the Twentieth Century is not THAT far behind them. One might even look at the current attitudes as a reaction to prior excesses in the other direction.

And the US intollerance (if that's what it is) for dissent is also newish. The advent of political correctness as a strict tenent in public life in this country and the practice of concluding that those who disagree with or just accidentally transgress against prevaling views are bad people, not just good people with bad views shows up everywhere.

How much these cultural issues play into this essentially sports story is not clear, but probably some.

One of the by products, though, of silencing dissent anywhere is an unfortunate tendency to also refuse to acknowledge that problems exist. Unfortunately, I do think that's a factor in the USWNT story. In refusing to acknowledge the GK switch was a "problem" for the team they went into the Brazil game unprepared for the additional challenges the switch entailed (such as the loss of Solo's leg strength on kicks and punts that was, in fact, integral to the style the team were playing) and left them even more uncertain and tentative than they had been before.

They also refused to acknowledge that there was a personal side to the switch for Solo (beyond a competitive player wanting to play) that needed to be dealt with. By refusing to acknowledge and maybe even help honor the commitment she'd made in the WC to win in memory of her father, they lost a chance to ramp up their own motivation and left a teammate on an emotional island which eventually sank under her.

Obviously, I don't see the Solo outburst as cleanly as others do as just a player speaking out in her own defense. I think there is also an element in it of an emotional cracking under a series of stresses. If true, I also think some sharing of those stresses by the team was possible with better leadership and could very well have avoided the seriousness of the controversy.

In any event, it's way past time in my view for Kristine Lilly to earn that band she's been wearing on her arm, put this "controversy" behind the squad, and bring everybody back together for a fresh start under a new coach with a renewed determination to be the best they can be on the field. In no culture, can one pursue "reconciliation" by way of silent shunning.

Perhaps there's something positive going on behind the scenes here. One can hope. If not, though, the failure by the team itself to seek resolution of the Solo issue is a continuing detriment to the USWNT program going forward. Moreover, with a good captain, it's not something the new coach should have to deal with... there will be plenty else on his or her plate.

Anonymous said...

He's not showing as much class as Oliver Kahn when he was benched in favor of Lehman for the World Cup.
I would keep him on the bench if I were Wegner. For one, the team is winning without him. Two, he knows Wegner only gave him a one year contract which basically means..."you are not our future". Glad to see he is taking it so well. A girl might have cried about it.

artnsue said...

The way my Gunners are playing now, maybe they will let Jens leave in January, sign Brad Guzan (another up and coming 6' 4" 23 year old stud of an American keeper,any more news on Arsene scouting him?), and then leave Almunia as #1, Fabianski #2 and groom El Guzano to take over in 1 or 2 years.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for the Gunners signing Guzan but, unless he has access to a European passport of some kind, how would he get a work permit?

I doubt he has played enough games to qualify(unless goalkeepers are considered exceptions). Does anyone know?


artnsue said...

I always forget about work permits to play overseas and I never knew the anonymous' response spiked my google interest: From


Work permits will be issued to international players of the highest calibre who are able to make a significant contribution in footballing terms to the development of the UK game at the highest level (i.e. clubs competing in the Premier Leagues and Football Leagues in England and Scotland, the Welsh Premier League and The Irish Premier League in Northern Ireland).

Initial Applications

To be eligible for a work permit:

* A player must have played for his country in at least 75% of its competitive ‘A’ team matches he was available for selection, during the two years preceding the date of the application; and,

* The player’s country must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA world rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application.

Competitive Matches

The definition of a competitive ‘A’ team international match is a:

* World Cup Finals game
* World Cup Qualifying group game
* Football Association confederation tournament game, for example:

o The FIFA Confederations Cup;
o The UEFA European Championships and Qualifiers;
o The African Cup of Nations and Qualifiers;
o The Asia Nations Cup and Qualifiers;
o The CONCACAF Gold Cup;
o The CONCACAF The Copa Caribe;
o The CONMEBOL Copa America;
o The OFC Nations Cup and
o The UNCAF Nations Cup

Where an application does not meet the published criteria, a club may request a panel to consider the player’s skills and experience. In these cases the sports and entertainments team, Border and Immigration Agency, will refer the club's evidence to an independent panel.

Where possible the club’s supporting evidence will be sent to the governing bodies in advance for their consideration in order to allow an informed decision.

The panel will normally consist of representatives from the relevant football governing bodies together with up to three independent experts.

The panel's terms of reference are:

* To consider whether the player is of the highest calibre
* To consider whether the player is able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in UK.

The panel will make a recommendation to the Border and Immigration Agency whose decision will then be relayed to the club.

Guzan probably doesn't fit the 75% criteria, but could fit under the panel criteria of "highest calibre" and contribution to the game...Keller, Friedel and Hahnemann sure have...

Anonymous said...


Thanks for that. I'm still dubious about Guzan's chances. However, the Premiership seems to be suffering a goalkeeper crisis at the moment and I would like to think this might be a good time for other American keepers of note.