Berlin: Six of Germany’s victorious World Cup squad were criticised for mocking their Argentinian opponents as “gauchos” during a joyous homecoming on Tuesday in front of up to 400,000 fans in Berlin.
Arriving on stage in groups, the second batch included Miroslav Klose, the all-time record World Cup scorer, and Mario Goetze, the scorer of Germany’s extra-time winner in Sunday’s final, who came out walking hunched over while singing “This is how the gauchos go” before standing tall and bellowing, “This is how the Germans go”.
The chant was borrowed from fans who used it to taunt rival Argentina supporters and drew immediate criticism on Twitter and in the German media for souring an otherwise carefree occasion.
It was the one slip in the impeccable conduct of a group of players widely praised for their humility and professionalism throughout the tournament.
“That was not so nice,” Der Spiegel said on its website. “The German team has received worldwide recognition as good winners. Evidently in the celebrations for the world title some of the professionals have not kept up the good work. Mario Goetze, Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos, Andre Schurrle, Shkodran Mustafi and Roman Weidenfeller made fun of final opponents Argentina.”
It pointed out that the next group — led out by Manuel Neuer, the goalkeeper — came out with their hands on the shoulders of the man in front, just like the Brazilian team, in a gentle dig at their semi-final victims, whom they humbled 7-1 to reach the final.
The criticism of Germany’s horseplay showed the intense level of scrutiny under which the star players will now be living for months to come.
The huge crowd gathered on the so-called “fan mile”, the wide avenue behind the Brandenburg Gate, did not mind and sang along with all the chants, trying to catch balls kicked off stage by the players.
“We are all world champions,” Joachim Loew, the coach behind Germany”s triumph who signed a new contract last October, told the crowd.
Departing from Rio a couple of hours late, the team landed at Tegel airport after flying low over the “fan mile”, which by then had been packed for hours with some waiting overnight to secure places at the front.
Philipp Lahm, the captain, led the team off the aircraft holding the trophy aloft, to cheers and a chorus of Football’s Coming Home, sung in English by fans on the airport’s viewing terrace. The 30-year-old was followed by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was draped in a Germany flag and sporting a bandage under his right eye, the result of a cut in the final.
In a glimpse of the German stereotypical view of buttoned-up Brits, Lukas Podolski, who plays for Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League, was asked by a TV interviewer whether he enjoyed sharing accommodation with five of his fellow squad members or whether they were “British” about rooming together. “No, it was fun,” he said.
The team bus took a couple of hours to reach the centre and passed thousands of well-wishers on the route, including the inmates of Moabit prison who waved out of windows.
Even the normally staid Handelsblatt, a business newspaper, caught the mood by asking Jürgen Fitschen, the joint head of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s top bank, about the victory.
“The German team embodies many of the qualities that typify Germany today: commitment, discipline, technical skill and tactical know-how,” Fitschen said.
He neglected to mention that Deutsche Bank sent a semi-serious note to clients at the start of last month with its analysis of the likely tournament outcome.
“We are confident that England will win this World Cup,” it concluded. England, of course, bowed out of the tournament at the group stage after defeats by Italy and Uruguay.