Kahn's 'error' haunts Germany
BERLIN, Germany -- The fallout in the German press over the national football team's defeat in the World Cup final was a mix of criticism for a momentary goalkeeping error and praise for a side few expected to advance so far.
Most German papers on Monday put some of the blame for the 2-0 defeat against Brazil on goalkeeper Oliver Kahn -- who before the final had been named the goalkeeper of the tournament.
"One mistake is a mistake too many," said the headline in Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
"Of all people Kahn, who is possibly the best goalkeeper in history, makes the sort of blunder that happens to goalkeepers around the world," the newspaper wrote.
"It was a football irony that blighted this nearly wonderful football party for Germany."
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) front-page headline said: "It wasn't meant to be, Brazil defeats Germany." (Match report)
Its sport page headline read: "Kahn opens the gate for Brazil's fifth World Cup title."
Bild, continental Europe's best-selling newspaper, said: "Kahn's tragic mistake."
"The football god must be Brazilian after all," Bild added. "We were so close."
The Berliner Morgenpost said: "In all honesty, we are disappointed. We've been dragged through the deserts of no success for years and we had hoped our pragmatism would prevail over the aesthetes of Brazil."
Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel wrote a simple page one headline "Germany, What a shame."
"The dancers from Brazil won," Der Tagesspiegel wrote in a commentary. "Germany would have been worthy champions as well."
Two weeks before the tournament, only five percent of Germans believed the team would emerge as champions, with many predicting Germany would be knocked out by the quarter-finals.
By the day of the final, though, polls showed a majority of Germans believed their team would beat Brazil.
The match was watched across Germany by what are expected to be record television audiences after the semi-final -- in which Germany beat co-hosts South Korea -- drew 20 million and a 90 percent share of the television audience.
Thousands watching a large-screen TV in Berlin's central Potsdamer Platz did not move after Sunday's final whistle blew. They just stood there, holding their faces and crying.
"I just can't talk, I'm speechless," said Uwe Bindl.
"It's a real shame but they are still heroes in Germany. Nobody expected us to come this far and we had nothing to lose in the final," said Annett Kraft, 24.
"I've so disappointed that we didn't win -- I really thought we'd do it," said Kristin Klawikowksi, 22.
In Hamburg, 100,000 fans had braved light rain in front of a giant screen by the harbour, while thousands packed Frankfurt's Roemer Square where the team will be welcomed home on Monday.
In Leipzig, police said 12 people were taken into custody and several people injured -- among them two officers -- as fans pelted police with bottles and firecrackers following Ronaldo's second goal.
Police arrested around 50 people for scuffles in the capital and 30 in the western city of Cologne.
In Munich, thousands gathered more peacefully, helped by a large international contingent, including many Brazilians.
The one consolation for Germans is that as hosts of the 2006 World Cup their national team automatically qualifies, unlike Brazil who, because of a change in the rules, must qualify.
Groans as German dream is denied
July 1, 2002
Ronaldo and Brazil World Cup kings
June 30, 2002
FIFA Web site looks to 2006
June 25, 2002
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