Jogi’s double standards

Throwing Max Kruse out of the national team was according to kicker the only natural choice national team coach Jogi Löw had at hand after the last 7 days of media frenzy surrounding the 28-year-old Wolfsburg attacker. Löw told the press that he was very disappointed by Kruse’s behaviour and that he had expected more after their talk last week.

Surprisingly the national team coach had nominated the 28-year-old despite his weak form and the headlines in Bild about him loosing 75,000€ in a cab in the early hours of the morning after a night of poker in Berlin. Additionally there were headlines about Kruse being too fond of Nutella and about a one night stand with a reality TV contestant.

However, one day after his nomination Kruse the same paper could once again reveal that Kruse had been out partying at 2 in the morning on a Saturday. What had happened? Kruse had asked his club’s permission to celebrate his 28th birthday in Berlin with some of his mates and he had gotten it as the team were scheduled to have an off day the following Sunday.

The Bild reporter who had spotted Kruse at the nightclub Avenue – seemingly by pure coincidence the way the story is reported in the paper – went up to him to take several pictures(maybe even the hope of eliciting a reaction from Kruse). After a while the striker had enough and was fed with the incessant photography and he went over to delete all the pictures from the reporter’s phone.

Oh, the moral outrage

After Bild’s gleeful report both Wolfsburg and the German national team acted hastily. The club issued Kruse a 25,000€ fine for his conduct and Löw decided to drop the striker from his roster. Both camps stated in the press that they had expected more from him after their talks with the striker the week before.

Yes, it might not look great if a player in poor form who is employed at a  currently struggling club goes out partying, but the club had given its permission. Sporting director Allofs seemed most of all to be concerned about Kruse deleting the pictures of the reporter. Bild had, by the way, conveniently hidden the fact that the club had okayed Kruse’s trip to the capital in the text they placed under one of the pictures in the article.

At this critical point the club could have already chosen to stand up for its players, telling Bild to leave their players a bit of privacy. The fact that it took the illegal publication of a video on the internet displaying some of Kruse’s most intimate parts on the internet for the club to get in front of its player is shameful. Once again Bild was there to write a story, but somehow the paper managed to omit the fact that somebody had taken it upon themselves to commit and illegal act to damage Kruse’s reputation further.

I would even go as far as saying that Kruse should be applauded for going over to that reporter deleting those pictures from her phone. The story in the paper suggests that the reporter hadn’t asked his permission, not even telling Kruse that she was working as a journalist. But, then again it is a well known fact that finding journalistic integrity at Bild is less likely than finding a virgin in a brothel.

Going undercover as a journalist can be a legitimate way of securing information that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise if it is in the public interest – a 28-year-old striker celebrating his birthday somehow doesn’t stack up against economic crimes or the government betraying their citizens if you ask me.

The fact that national team coach Löw then took it upon himself to criticise Kruse for lacking his professionalism seems to be rather odd if the incident is put into its right context. Sure, it might seem that the player has shown lacking professionalism over the last few months given the reports in the paper from last week and his form on the pitch, but Löw was aware of all those things when he decided to nominate Kruse.

Having nominated him, he then decided to drop Kruse after a trip into Berlin’s nightlife that was okayed by the club. If lacking professionalism was a problem for Löw, it surely should have come up before he took out the squad. Nobody would have made a fuss if the national team coach decided to drop him for that reason from the get go. A 28-year-old person celebrating their birthday shouldn’t be a story as long as the celebrations are perfectly legal(which they were).

Differential treatment

Furthermore, Löw dropping Kruse leaves a foul taste in the mouth. Other national team players have gotten in the headlines over the last few years and Löw has decided to stick by them. Former Dortmund player Kevin Grosskreutz famously threw a kebab at a fan and urinated in a hotel lobby after the cup final in 2014. The coach said he didn’t condone such behaviour, but decided to take him to Brazil just the same.

Grosskreutz’s former teammate Marco Reus drove for years without a legal driving license, even purchasing a fake Dutch license, and was only mildly reprimanded by the coach. If one takes a closer look at all of these events one can see a clear cut common denominator: All of them are potentially punishable as criminal offences, and Reus’s actions were in the end.

One could even go as far as arguing that Reus’s actions were potentially harmful and could have endangered many lives. Unlicensed drivers are supposed to be on the road under the supervision for an instructor for a reason. Potentially endangering lives on the road is brushed off with a few sentences, but a trip into Berlin’s nightlife that was permitted by the employer of the player leads to the player being dropped from the national team. Somehow one gets the feeling that Löw punishes his players based on how important they are for the team’s performance, rather than the offences they have committed.

Kruse has done nothing illegal at all. Sure, losing 75,000€ in a cab is stupid, but there’s no such thing as paragraph in Germany’s penal code outlawing such behaviour. Bragging about sex with reality TV contestants isn’t classy, but there’s nothing more to it. Celebrating your birthday and asking strangers to delete the pictures they have taken without your permission shouldn’t be regarded as unreasonable.

Max Kruse himself hit the nail on the head when he told Bild today:

“I’m now under the impression that my persona is measured with different measuring sticks in the public.”

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.