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Olaf Scholz and the European Championship: What does the Chancellor actually know about football?

Olaf Scholz and the European Championship: What does the Chancellor actually know about football?
Olaf Scholz and the European Championship: What does the Chancellor actually know about football?

Chancellors like to maintain a close relationship with football. Olaf Scholz does not. Our author knows why it is better that he will not be attending the first game of the European Championship.

Olaf Scholz will not be attending the national team’s first game at the European Football Championship. International commitments. With all due respect, this is good news for Germany. Because Scholz’s record as a lucky charm is not very encouraging.

Scholz has attended three international matches so far: Germany lost the final of the 2022 Women’s European Championship in London 1-2 under his watch. In February 2023, the women’s team only managed a 0-0 draw in a friendly against Sweden, just like the German men recently did against Ukraine. When Scholz is there, things are lacking in the attack.

The chancellors and football: Helmut Kohl loved to kick the ball and beamed in 1990 after winning the World Cup in Rome alongside national coach Franz Beckenbauer. Gerhard Schröder came to TuS Talle as a boy, where he earned the nickname “Acker” – “because I always gave it my all”. Angela Merkel saw her first international match in the stadium as a student in Leipzig in 1974: East Germany against England 1:1. Later she cheered in the stands and visited sweaty men in musty changing rooms. She is still friends with Jürgen Klinsmann today.

Jusos instead of football club

Scholz does not have a close relationship with football. In a podcast he announced that he would watch as many European Championship games as possible, but not all of them in the stadium, but also with a bratwurst in the garden. He is not a “top expert”. One person who has sat with him in the stadium sums it up like this: The Chancellor is familiar with the theoretical principle of offside – but it is not certain whether he would immediately recognize it on the field.

Although his father and both brothers liked to play football, the young Olaf Scholz preferred to read Karl May. He was a good student, but he regularly got a grade of C in sports. At 17, the high school student joined the Jusos, but never a football club.

As a young man, Scholz occasionally went to the Hamburger Sport-Verein in the Volksparkstadion. As Senator for the Interior, he first came into contact with football professionally: in August 2001, he attended the Bundesliga match between FC St. Pauli and Hansa Rostock. Surrounded by six bodyguards, the employer watched the work of hundreds of police officers who were supposed to prevent riots between the fan groups.

Olaf Scholz, “the HSV among the heads of government”

As First Mayor, Scholz presented a balanced approach. In May 2015, he visited the teams of the Bundesliga club Hamburger SV and the second division club FC St. Pauli during training in quick succession. Both teams were fighting against relegation at the time. This time, the mayor’s visit helped: both clubs stayed in the league.

Three years later, Scholz wished he could once again celebrate a championship with HSV. He hoped “that I don’t have to stay in office forever to experience that again.” This deadline was short: just six weeks later, Scholz went to Berlin as finance minister. The opposition leader in the state parliament chose a remarkable comparison as a farewell: “Inspiration and enthusiasm” were sought in vain in the outgoing mayor, complained CDU parliamentary group leader André Trepoll. Scholz was “the HSV among the heads of government.”

Not much was heard from Trepoll after that. Scholz did become chancellor. “Don’t look at others, don’t think about what others think.” He now gave this advice to the national team. In other words: They should play the way he governs. Well then.

All episodes of the column “Fried – View from Berlin” can be found here.

Source: Stern

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