Today I came across this article on the official FIFA website (Germany). It is sort of a profile with an interesting title Lahm: A Captain With A Target. I have translated the whole thing, but I am going to break it into several parts because I would like to comment on every paragraph.
Lahm: A Captain With A Target
It’s been relatively quiet when it comes to Philipp Lahm. At EURO 2012, neither on the pitch or off the pitch has the captain of the German National Team made big headlines. Lahm (28) has showed up only once before journalists from all over the world at the team’s headquarters in Danzig; he emphasized in words the dream of the “Golden generation” for the a title and, otherwise, restrained genteelly.
It sounds like Lahm has to make big headlines :) I beg to differ. His words are usually made into headlines.
It was different two years ago. At the World Cup in South Africa, as the interim captain, he caused a moderately severe earthquake, and a huge fight with then injured captain Michael Ballack would be stirred. At the German headquarters in Velmore Grande, Lahm was omnipresent at once, then shortly after he claimed in an interview that he would like to continue wearing the captain’s armband also after the World Cup.
In the end, for Ballack, this affront against him was synonymous with the end of his career in the German National Team. The former Capitano, just as before, is convinced that he was the victim of an intrigue. The fact that Ballack refused to have a further discussion with Lahm speaks volumes.
One year later, Lahm again got himself into hot water with his book The Subtle Difference. The former head coach Rudi Völler then described the remarks of the DFB- and Bayern- captain against former coaches as “pathetic and shabby” and asked the German Football Association to make sure there would be consequences.
Meanwhile, the waves were smoothed over, after his public apology Lahm is the captain of the National Team and sits firmly in the saddle in Bayern. “He is an exemplary captain,” says Germany’s coach Joachim Löw about Lahm who has to fight for his reputation even after two years with the armband.
Fighting for his reputation? What? When?.. Fighting silly assumptions is more like it. The fact that Ballack did not want to talk to him may speak volumes, but in what sense? It seems to me the article implies that it’s Lahm’s fault and that it points out how shady everything was. Well, I am not convinced. As to Völler, he really should read Lahm’s book. After reading through about 100 pages, one might ask himself, “Where exactly is the criticism?”
While Ballack’s words had weight at most times, the words of his successor are usually soft. But the fact that the favorite of all mothers-in-law might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, that he has already demonstrated several times.
I don’t know what connotation this expression has in other languages, but I do not think it has a positive one in English. To me at least, it conveys the lack of sincerity first of all. Has he really been lacking sincerity? He was asked about the captaincy, he gave an honest answer. He didn’t like what was going on with his club, he talked about it. So, why does he have to be labeled as a wolf in sheep’s clothing? In addition, does the ‘strength’ always mean ‘being aggressive, forceful’? Finally, how does the author know that Lahm’s words do not have any weight?
If Lahm’s words did not matter, they would not provoke such discussions. Plain and simple.
In the fall of 2009, being a vice-captain of Bayern back then, [he] had to pay a record fine of 50,000 euros because he, according to the Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, “in a blatant and unforgivable way went against the rules” with his comments in the SZ-interview, hence broke the taboo. Lahm dared to criticize the philosophy of the club.
The DFB-captain, who, along with his two-year-older sister Melanie, spent his childhood and youth in Gern, a part of Munich, well-protected by his parents Daniela and Roland, as well as his grandparents, could wipe off the table the concerns about him with a public apology.
Only those who have not read his book can write something like this. As a journalist, one has to understand how the media works. Apologizing is done for a reason and, most likely, is done for the public, as well as journalists, more than anyone else.
Because of his statement about homosexuality, he also made headlines. “He has to set an example with his remarks, or he should keep his mouth shut,” accused the former NBA-player John Amaechi, who came out of the closet in 2007, the DFB-captain because the latter had said that the German society is still not ready for a football player to be a homosexual.
I wrote on this matter a while ago. You can find the post here. There has also been a commentary by Klaus Hoeltzenbein in SZ, and he made a very good point. Thus, I am offering you a translation of certain points because they are pertinent to the discussion:
“Now that Amaechi criticized Lahm, he attacked the wrong guy. For Lahm has proved, and not only with his interview to a gay magazine, that social issues matter to him. But Lahm is also the captain of the German National Team, thus Germany’s first football player, and as such, he could find actual words of encouragement for those who are haunted by the question whether they should come out. For those who wish to talk about the problems in the locker room.
Or about acting in public, in which many prefer to stage a relationship rather than show up hand-in-hand with their real partner. Or about energy that is required to deal with the brunt on the Internet where the informers bustle and speculate about private life of another.
Do it as [Klaus] Wowereit (“I’m gay, and that is good”), that’s what is often recommended to football players. It is forgotten that not so long ago not all politicians were coming out, and that transparency belongs with the job profile of a politician; it is different for a football player. However, it would be wrong to underestimate them. Those, who haven’t – or don’t even today – come out, know exactly why they don’t want to do it. To respect that is also a sign of tolerance.” (translation © unavis)
This explains perfectly my frustration with Amaechi at that point. Very well said.
And now, on with the article at hand.
Before the start of the European Championship, Lahm has picked an argument with Michel Platini. The President of UEFA has countered with sharp words Lahm’s claim about taking a stand and stepping in by the European organization. “He can say what he wants. That doesn’t matter to me. Mr. Lahm is not my boss. He has nothing to demand of me. He is the captain of the German National Team, not that of UEFA,” said the French.
In an interview, Lahm has criticized the political leadership of Ukraine, mainly because of its treatment of the imprisoned opposition leader, Yulia Timoschenko, and asked UEFA to take a clearer stand on the issue of human rights in the former Soviet republic.
“I spoke for myself and not on behalf of the team,” said the soon-to-be father. Lahm is aware of the fact that he cannot make everything alright, but he won’t change, “Overall, I will stay the way I am and try to influence the team where it’s needed.”
This one is a not-so-precised quote from one of his recent interviews. Just wanted to point that out. Also, as I understand, by saying “everything”, the author meant the situation in Ukraine. At least I hope that is what the author meant.
By and large, I have to say that I expected something different, or something more, from this article. Reducing Lahm to a headline-maker, summarizing his statements that stirred things up in an unexpected and silly way – that is not my idea of a profile that I would like to see on FIFA’s website. It would have been nice to mention his philosophy, the way he sees things, for example. It would have done the readers more good.