Monday, July 19, 2010

Behind the German gay World Cup story

"Gary N. Reese has reported over the years on the issues of sports and sexuality for many publications, including The New York Times and the Village Voice, among others. Fluent in German, he is a soccer fanatic and an avid cyclist. He wrote this piece in reaction to the allegations over gays on the German World Cup team."

Gary N. Reese writes:
To understand what happened, it is necessary to back up at least a few months before the World Cup opened. During a tournament final in London, the national team’s longtime captain, Michael Ballack, was seriously injured. So serious that Ballack was on crutches and in a cast afterwards – in no shape to play in what would have certainly been his last chance to steer the team to the country’s fourth world championship.

In early May, Ballack’s sports agent, Michael Becker, gave an interview to a writer from Der Spiegel, Germany’s largest news magazine. The writer, Alexander Osang, is very respected in Europe, a social critic, playwright and novelist. Osang expected that Becker, as an agent, would tailor his remarks to promote the interests of his client.

At the time, the agent had a lot to be proud of. His client was being celebrated as one of world soccer’s hunks. Ballack had been chosen by Vanity Fair to be photographed in his underwear, in Germany’s national colors of red, black and gold. This was just before Ballack’s injury occurred. Still, Becker seemed to think that his client was threatened.

By whom? By people envious of Ballack, because they were “mediocre, ugly, untalented, bureaucratic, provincial, unmanly or gay,” he told the writer. Quite a catalog, with the last two words standing out because they don’t really logically follow from the five adjectives that precede them. Unmanly or gay. READ MORE