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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
German press slam football 'twits'
German media went straight for the jugular after the national soccer team plunged out of Euro 2000 with Germany's worst performance in a major tournament finals since World War Two.
"Germany is ashamed of you!" screamed mass-market daily Bild after the side crumbled to a humiliating 3-0 defeat against a second-string Portugal team.
The result sent the three times World Cup winners home without a single win and, in Bild's words, "just one measly goal".
"You're Europe's football twits!" groaned Bild, which had already depicted a weak-looking German squad as dwarves before the 1996 European champions began the defence of their crown.
After a performance that even coach Erich Ribbeck, who more than ever looks certain to quit, described as embarrassing, the knives were out for players who created just one realistic goal chance and looked to give up completely in the second half.
Like most German papers, Bild spread its blame across the whole team, handing every player the rating: "Even Bild is lost for words..."
Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, vice-president of the German Football Association (DFB), agreed. "This is a dark hour for German soccer," he said, adding that the players had only themselves to blame.
With Germany's first qualifying match for the 2002 World Cup just 10 weeks away, papers turned straight to the question of who would take over from a man appointed to turn Germany's fortunes around after a disappointing 1998 World Cup.
Although Ribbeck failed to confirm for sure he would resign, his twitchy and emotional efforts to skirt the question while admitting full responsibility left most pundits in no doubt.
Even Germany's top business daily Handelsblatt came to the same conclusion, calling the game "Ribbeck's last spasm."
Losing in such ignominious fashion was actually a good thing for a side whose fabled reliability and durability collapsed as a tired and ageing squad failed to deliver, Handelsblatt argued.
"At least it clears the way for an urgently needed total clear-out," it said, calling the DFB a much bigger loser than Ribbeck or 39-year-old faded star Lothar Matthaeus, who the coach controversially recalled for international duty.
Bild agreed, apealling for Bayer Leverkusen trainer Christoph Daum - who took his team to within an inch of the Bundesliga title this year but was pipped by Bayern Munich on goal difference - to be brought in as head of a new regime.
"Daum has to come and clean this mess up - right now," said Bild.
But the Leverkusen coach's club contract runs until 2001 and, while he has hinted he could do both jobs, his club have said they are not convinced it would be to anyone's benefit.
Rainer Holzschuh, the editor-in-chief of Germany's leading soccer magazine Kicker, said only two or three players should survive from the current squad.
"If they don't change something fast, if we don't get completely new players - regardless of whether they can play better football, they have to show more heart - then Germany will for years be a second-rate team or even worse," he told German television.
The problem will be where to find them.
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