European Championship: "Disgusting": U21 have to deal with racism shock at EM

When the team bus of the German U21 footballers reached the team headquarters on the Black Sea in the middle of the night, the shock and horror were still great.

European Championship: "Disgusting": U21 have to deal with racism shock at EM

When the team bus of the German U21 footballers reached the team headquarters on the Black Sea in the middle of the night, the shock and horror were still great.

After the racist insults against the U21 internationals Youssoufa Moukoko and Jessic Ngankam, nobody in the German Football Association camp wanted to just go back to business as usual. "I definitely have to talk to the boys and the whole team now," announced coach Antonio Di Salvo that night. But there is little time until the next important game on Sunday against the Czech Republic.

About an hour after the final whistle in Kutaisi, Georgia, Moukoko made the hate messages against himself and teammate Ngankam public with emotional words. "There are people who have nothing to do, they insult you. If we win, we're German and if we lose, we're black," complained the Borussia Dortmund striker. "It's disgusting, it hurt a lot," said Moukoko, who asked for a "sign". The 18-year-old missed a penalty after just three minutes, Herthas Ngankam also failed from the point in the final phase (80th minute).

Team and coach shocked

The team and Di Salvo were shocked. "I don't understand why people are still racist these days," said goalkeeper Noah Atubolu, who shared similar experiences. "The lads can't help where they come from. They have chosen to play for Germany and are doing their best for their country." The DFB and the clubs of Ngankam and Moukoko also condemned the incidents. "Any kind of racism and discrimination is the bottom drawer, that doesn't work at all," said Di Salvo.

The 44-year-old coach is now extremely challenged in his first tournament as head coach. On the one hand, he and his coaching team have to work through what happened with the team, on the other hand, the U21s are under enormous pressure after their false start at the European Championships. "It's not beneficial, that's clear," said the coach when asked about the influence of the insults on the performance of his eleven. "Now it's up to us to build up the boys."

There is little time for that: the second European Championship game against the Czech Republic is already scheduled for Sunday (6:00 p.m. CEST/Sat.1) in Batumi. After the 1:1 at the start, the defending champion urgently needs a win. Otherwise, before the group final against England on Wednesday, the team is in danger of losing sight of goals such as reaching the knockout phase and qualifying for the Olympic Games. "We still have a lot of work to do," said Di Salvo.

Bisseck goal is not enough

Captain Yann-Aurel Bisseck's goal (26') was not enough to win against Israel despite being in the majority at half-time - also because the German team missed numerous other chances in addition to the two penalties that were missed. "In any case, that was relatively little," Di Salvo admitted soberly. Moukoko in particular, who was supposed to lead the way at the European Championship, had an unlucky evening, missed numerous great chances and prevented a goal from being offside. "Youssoufa knows he can do better," said the coach.

To catch the exceptional talent and teammate Ngankam and at the same time to focus on the important sporting task - that will now be the challenge for the former Bundesliga professional. After the successful era of coach Stefan Kuntz with three finals in a row and winning the title in 2017 and 2021, anything but going back to the knockout phase would be a brutal disappointment for the U21s.

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