Bierhoff accepts criticism but justifies Germany’s flight to Basel

By Jens Mende, dpa
Basel, Switzerland (dpa) – German football federation (DFB) director Oliver Bierhoff on Monday defended coach Joachim Loew’s team flying to Switzerland from Stuttgart for a Nations League match but accepted criticism as valid.

“We can understand the critical voices and take on the resulting discussion as an opportunity to question how we can take the important aspects of the environment and sustainability more into account in our planning and decisions in the future,” Bierhoff said through the DFB website.

The team travelled to Switzerland by chartered plane for their second Nations League match on Sunday, which ended in a 1-1 draw, after hosting Spain in Stuttgart on Thursday.

Electing to fly rather than travel around 260 kilometres by road or rail prompted criticism on social media and from reporters from German broadcaster ZDF who questioned the environmental impact of the flight.

Bierhoff said that health requirements during the coronavirus pandemic also played a role in selecting the plane over train, which would have required a connection and could have exposed the players to those outside their ‘bubble’, the DFB said.

“In the preparation for the two international matches, we concentrated completely on the hygienic safety of the team and optimal conditions to ensure the physical regeneration of the players,” Bierhoff said.

“From this point of view, the plane with a short flight-time was clearly the better choice over a three-and-a-half hour bus ride or a train journey with connections. Out of responsibility towards the clubs we also wanted to do everything on our part to ensure the players returned healthy.”

On its website the DFB has a page discussing “environment and climate change” in which it encourages clubs to behave sustainably. Earlier this year the DFB said it had joined a United Nations climate change initiative.

“Sometimes it’s the little things that add up to make a big difference,” the DFB previously said online.

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