Germany Exit Won’t End World Cup Bonanza – Adidas

German sporting goods maker Adidas said on Thursday that it expects to sell around eight million football shirts this year even after former champions Germany’s shock exit from the World Cup.

“Of course we’re disappointed, but that’s sport, we’re sponsors, we’re there in good and in bad moments,” a spokeswoman told AFP.

“Together (with Germany) we’ve become world champions four times and European champions three times in the past,” she added.

Bavaria-based Adidas sponsors some 12 teams taking part in this year’s Russia World Cup, six of them definitely qualified for the knockout stage: Russia, Sweden, Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Belgium.

Colombia and Japan could also still make it past the group games.

The firm expects combined sales of all its sponsored teams’ kits to reach around eight million, more than during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Looking to competitors, US-based Nike boasts England, Brazil, Croatia, Portugal and France among its remaining lineup.

Meanwhile Germany’s Puma is hoping its leaping-cat ensign will bring luck to Switzerland, Uruguay and Senegal.

AFP

Calls Grow In Germany For Expulsion Of U.S. Envoy

Leading politicians of Germany’s left-wing parties on Tuesday called for the US ambassador to be expelled after the staunch defender of Donald Trump was accused of meddling in domestic politics and aggravating already tense ties.

Richard Grenell had taken up his diplomatic posting on May 8, and immediately sparked an uproar when he tweeted on the same day that German companies should stop doing business with Iran as Trump quit the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.

He stoked further outrage over the weekend with the reported comments of his ambition to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders”.

Grenell also raised eyebrows with his plan to host Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz — who the US envoy describes as a “rock star”, for lunch on June 13.

“What this man is doing, is unheard of in international diplomacy,” Martin Schulz, former chief of the Social Democratic Party, told national news agency DPA.

“If a German ambassador were to say in Washington that he is there to boost the Democrats, he would have been kicked out immediately.

“I hope that the Kurz visit leads to Mr Grenell’s short tenure as ambassador in Germany,” added Schulz, who also wrote on Twitter that the envoy did not behave like a diplomat but like a “far-right colonial officer”.

Amid the row, Germany’s foreign ministry is seeking clarification from Grenell about his comments, a topic that will be raised at a pre-arranged meeting scheduled for Wednesday between the envoy and state secretary Andreas Michaelis.

But the opposition far-left Linke party’s chief Sahra Wagenknecht said Berlin would do better to immediately expel Grenell rather than invite him in for talks.

“Someone like US ambassador Richard Grenell, who thinks he can lord over Europe and determine who is governing here, he can no longer stay in Germany as a diplomat,” Wagenknecht told Die Welt daily.

“If the government takes the democratic sovereignty of our country seriously, then it shouldn’t just invite Grenell to a chat over coffee, but expel him immediately,” she added.

The controversy surrounding Grenell comes as Germany and the United States are experiencing less than cosy ties after Trump ditched the Iran nuclear deal and imposed punishing tariffs on European aluminium and steel.

Underlining the souring transatlantic relationship, Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that Europe can no longer rely on the US to protect it, but stressed that the continent must “take its destiny in its own hands”.

AFP

German Minister Expresses Concern Over Facebook

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley, has  expressed ongoing concern over Facebook’s behaviour saying sufficient actions have not been done yet.

Recall that months ago the social media giant became embroiled in a data misuse scandal which affected up to 87 million users around the world.

“We see that the consequences of this have not been sufficiently drawn yet,’’ Barley said in Luxembourg, ahead of talks on the issue with her 27 EU counterparts.

She demanded more transparency on who had been affected by the scandal, as well as stricter rules to identify who is posting content online.

Facebook admitted in April that it had improperly shared personal user data with the data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, which was hired to influence the 2016 Brexit referendum in Britain as well as the U.S. election campaign that year.

Company chief Mark Zuckerberg has since sought to make amends, apologising in a hearing before the U.S. Congress and to EU lawmakers, as well as pledging to apply new European data protection rules globally.

“There is still reason for concern over Facebook’s behaviour,’’ the German minister said.

“The fact, for example, that face recognition technology is now being reintroduced is not a confidence-building measure,’’ she added.

Facebook introduced its face recognition technology in 2012 but disabled it for European users.

In April it launched the option for users in the EU, as well in Canada, to activate the feature.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said she hoped to hear from ministers what safeguards could be introduced to protect against election meddling.

“We have to speak about how safe are our electoral processes,’’ she noted.

World Cup: Germany Drops Leroy Sane In Final 23-Man Squad

Reigning champions Germany have made the stunning decision to leave Manchester City winger Leroy Sane out of their squad for World Cup 2018.

The 22-year-old is coming off the back of an impressive season at club level which saw him collect a Premier League and Carabao Cup double.

Sane contributed 14 goals to the City cause during a record-breaking campaign, while also providing 17 assists across England’s top-flight and the Champions League.

He will, however, play no part for his country in Russia this summer after being cut from Joachim Low’s 27-man preliminary party.

With that selection narrowed down to 23 ahead of the defence of their global crown, Germany have opted to favour the likes of Julian Draxler and Sebastian Rudy.

Alongside Sane, Bayer Leverkusen duo Bernd Leno and Jonathan also miss out, as does Freiburg striker Nils Petersen.

Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil was among those to receive good news, though, while Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger will be another Premier League performer within the ranks.

Sane’s team-mate at City, Ilkay Gundogan, is also included, as is reported Manchester United and Real Madrid target Timo Werner of RB Leipzig.

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer gets the nod despite his recent injury struggles, while Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus will get the chance to put his previous fitness issues behind him – with the 29-year-old having missed out on the successful World Cup campaign in 2014.

Germany open their 2018 campaign against Mexico on June 17, before going on to face Sweden and South Korea in their other Group F fixtures.

Diesel Vehicles Banned In Hamburg

Diesel vehicles have been banned in Hamburg on Thursday, making it the first city in Germany to impose the ban.

According to reports this is a part of the country’s much-debated move to improve air quality. The port city blocked a 600-metre stretch of the Max Brauer Allee and a 1.6-km stretch of Stresemannstrasse in the Altona-Nord district for older diesel cars and trucks from midnight (2200 GMT Wednesday).

Meanwhile signs marking the restrictions and diversions have been put in the place over recent weeks in the Altona-Nord district.

All diesel vehicles that do not meet the Euro-6 emissions standards are affected by the Hamburg ban.

“Less than a third of the diesel vehicles registered in the city at the beginning of the year meet the standard,’’ the Federal Motor Transport Authority said.

They are exceptions to the ban however: in one of the streets affected, emergency vehicles, residents and visitors, bin lorries, delivery vans and taxis can all use the road.

The extremely limited nature of the ban has drawn criticism from environmental groups such as Greenpeace, which say it is merely window-dressing.

Pressure has been building on major German cities to improve their air quality and diesel vehicles have been a key target of the authorities due to their nitrogen oxide emissions.

The long-expected diesel bans have been closely-watched in Germany as they could carry consequences for the country’s large car-making industry, which has relied greatly on diesel-powered vehicles.

After a long-running legal battle, cities were given the green-light to impose diesel bans by a Constitutional Court decision in February.

German Players Banned From Having Sex During World Cup Tournament

German players have been banned from having sex and using social media but are allowed to have a glass of wine or a beer before bed during the 2018 World Cup tournament which is to be held in Russia.

The ban was made by head coach of German team , Joachim Low. 

According to La Gazetta dello Sport players will, on approval, be able to see their wives, children and girlfriends in the build-up to Russia 2018. Not during the competition itself, though.

But while nights of passion are almost out of the question it is not forbidden to take alcohol before going to sleep. So long as drinking is kept within reasonable bounds, of course.

Low has laid out his dos and don’ts quite clearly, insisting: “The team is more important than the ego.”

“The guys know our behaviour guidelines well, they know what our ambitions are and what our tasks are: no one can become a world champion, we are all pieces of a puzzle.”

Low added: “Everyone must be aware of their role within the team. The personal ego must be appeased.”

The Germany national team who are in Group F, will face Sweden, Mexico and South Korea.

Wagner Resigns From Germany Duty After World Cup Snub

Bayern Munich’s out-spoken striker Sandro Wagner has reacted to his surprise omission from Germany’s provisional World Cup squad by retiring from international duty.

“I hereby resign immediately from the national team,” Wagner told German daily Bild.

“For me, it is clear that I do not seem to fit with the coaching team in the way I am always open, honest and address things directly.”

The 30-year-old took a thinly-veiled swipe at head coach Joachim Loew for leaving him out of the 27-man squad, announced on Tuesday, for next month’s World Cup as strikers Timo Werner, Mario Gomez and Nils Petersen were selected instead.

Wagner, who made his debut in 2017, helped an inexperienced squad win the Confederations Cup in Russia last July and has scored five goals in just eight internationals.

“I would lie if I said that I am not disappointed, the World Cup would have been a great thing,” said Wagner.

“Of course, I can’t take it too seriously, because, as I have said many times before, there are far more important things in life besides football.”

Wagner’s omission was a surprise given his impressive form this year for Bayern, the club he joined in January as Robert Lewandowski’s back-up, scoring an impressive nine goals in 17 games, mainly off the bench.

He is understandably red-faced having said in numerous post-match interviews this year that he expected to make the World Cup squad.

However, his out-spoken nature clearly counted against him in the appraisal of Loew, who must cut four names from the provisional list for Germany’s final 23-man squad, which must be submitted by June 4, for the World Cup finals.

Germany open their World Cup campaign against Mexico in Moscow on June 17 and also face South Korea and Sweden in Group F.

30,000 Nigerian Migrants To Be Flushed Out Of Germany

Geoffrey Onyeama revealed that he received the Security Adviser to the President of Germany, Dr Jan Hecker, and his team in Abuja. The new proposal, according to Onyeama the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is predicated on perceived failures and slow pace of the current system of repatriation.

According to Onyeama involved both the participation of Nigerian embassies and consulate and the German immigration office.

“They don’t have enough faith and confidence in the process that we have at the moment for the repatriation process.

”Some of the delays they believed are with the mission and consulate in Germany.

”They want to propose a completely new process of repatriation, known as Return and Re-admission,” he said.

Onyeama said that in the last two years only about 200 Nigerians had returned to the country out of about 30,000.

”Germans were not happy that the system we have in place at the moment is certainly not working to their satisfaction,” he said.

According to him, the new process essentially entails that once all legal processes have been exhausted, Nigeria should trust them (Germany), to make right decision on whom should be repatriated.

He added that once the decision was taken, Germany would bring the affected persons to Nigeria without the involvement of Nigeria’s mission in Germany.

“They will bring them here to Nigeria and say we have gone through a process in Germany; these people are your nationals, they have exhausted all the legal processes, please take them.

”And it will be here on Nigeria territory that any possibility will then exist to say maybe that one is not or this one is not.

Onyeama, while describing the proposed process as a complete transformation of the current process, noted that Germany aside from issuing travel documents to those to be repatriated, would also be responsible for their travels.

However, for the new process to come into being, Nigeria would have to agree and carry out some changes in her laws.

Earlier, Jan Hecker said he was in Nigeria to see how both countries could intensify their bilateral relations and achieve good result, particularly on migration.

He was accompanied on the visit by the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Bernhard Schlagheck and other officials.

Suspected Boko Haram Member Arrested In Germany

A 27 year-old Amaech Fred has been arrested as a suspected member of Boko Haram and killing Nigerian civilians during attacks on schools and villages has been arrested in Germany on Friday according to the federal prosecutor.

Amaechi was arrested on Wednesday in Bavaria and was issued an arrest warrant from a judge who also ordered that he was remanded in custody.

“He is strongly suspected of being a member of the foreign terrorist organization Boko Haram,” the statement said.

Fred O. is believed to have joined Boko Haram in 2013 and has openly admitted to actively taking part in four attacks against Nigerian civilians during his one-year membership in Boko Haram.

He is being accused of participating in the killing of several people during two attacks on schools and two separate attacks on villages, including one where members of Boko Haram took girls as hostages and burned down a church.

Since 2009, Boko Haram has been trying to establish an Islamic state in Northeast Nigeria.

More than 15,000 people have been killed and millions displaced.

 

Germany To Stop Arms Exportation To Countries Involved In Yemen War

Germany has announced that all arms exports to countries involved in the ongoing war in Yemem will be stopped.

The decision was announced on Friday by a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This is coming as political parties including Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) continue to hold talks about forming a coalition government following the German federal election last September.

Germany “isn’t taking any arms exports decisions right now that aren’t in line with the results of the preliminary talks”, Steffan Seibert, a spokesperson for Merkel, said in a post on Twitter.

The move is expected to affect Germany’s weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, which totalled almost 450 million euro ($550m) in the third fiscal quarter of 2017, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Saudi Arabia has been at war in Yemen since March 2015, when a coalition led by the oil-rich kingdom launched a campaign of aerial bombardment aimed at countering Houthi rebels, who are widely believed to be backed by Iran, and reinstating the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Amnesty Gulf, a branch of the Amnesty International rights group, praised Germany’s decision and called on other countries to do the same.

“Good news! Germany halts arms exports to parties to the conflict in #Yemen. [The] US, UK, France and all other states selling arms to the #Saudi-led coalition must halt arms sales now!,” the organisation said Friday in a post on Twitter.

The UK has licensed more than 4.6 billion pounds ($6.3bn) worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the war in Yemen began, according to the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

A recent UN report on human rights abuses related to foreign intervention in Yemen documented a number of civilian casualties inflicted by Saudi-led coalition bombing.

The panel examined 10 air attacks in 2017 that killed 157 people and found that the targets included a migrant boat, a motel and five residential buildings, according to a copy of the report seen by Al Jazeera.

According to the Geneva-based SAM Organisation for Rights and Liberties, some 450 civilians were killed in Yemen during December 2017.

The killings were part of 1,937 violations committed throughout the country during December, including physical assaults, violation to press freedom, torture and arbitrary detention, a January 17 report by the organisation said.

The violations were perpetrated by “Houthis militia, Arab Coalition air force, military formations and groups loyal to the legitimate government”, the report said.

The group condemned “all crimes included in this report which are considered as gross violations of the international humanitarian law and human rights law”.

To date, more than 10,000 people have died during the war in Yemen and more than two million people have been displaced since fighting broke out, according to the UN.

 

Merkel in Poll Setback Before Tough Coalition Talks

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives lost a closely-watched state poll Sunday, weakening her hand as she embarks on complex coalition talks following a disappointing showing at last month’s general election.

Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats (SPD) came out ahead with 37 to 37.5 percent of votes in the western state of Lower Saxony, home to scandal-tainted Volkswagen, according to estimates released by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF.

Merkel’s CDU party clinched 35 percent, followed by the Greens with 8-8.5 percent, and the liberal and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) with 7 to 7.5 percent.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), fresh from winning its first seats in the national parliament, scored 5.5 percent, giving it a presence in 14 of Germany’s 16 states.

The SPD victory will come as a relief to former European Parliament chief Schulz, who has gone into opposition after being humiliated in last month’s general election and who oversaw three regional election losses this year.

The Lower Saxony vote took on outsized significance as it came just three weeks after a general election that handed Merkel’s conservative bloc its worst result in decades, while marking a breakthrough for the far-right AfD.

Merkel still won a fourth term but in order to form a government she must now forge an alliance with the Greens and the FDP, a political poker game that could drag on well into 2018.

Commentators had warned that a setback in Lower Saxony would weaken Merkel’s bargaining position as she begins the negotiations in Berlin on Wednesday.

‘Catch-up race’
Lower Saxony was forced into a snap vote after the ruling coalition of SPD and the Greens collapsed when it lost its wafer-thin majority due to the defection of a lawmaker to the CDU.

Opinion polls had given the CDU a clear lead early on, but that advantage evaporated in the final stretch.

The SPD’s state premier Stephan Weil hailed the poll win as a “roaring success” after a “catch-up race”.

Schulz was equally effusive, hailing an “unprecedented election battle” and praising voters for giving the SPD “a tail wind” as the party heads to the opposition benches in Berlin.

After campaigning for the CDU in Lower Saxony, Merkel must now turn her attention back to cobbling together a coalition with two very different partners — an alliance that is untested at the national level.

If they fail to reach an agreement, Merkel will have to call fresh elections.

Little mood for concessions
The unlikely grouping has been dubbed “Jamaica” because the parties’ colours match those of the Caribbean country’s flag — black for the conservatives, yellow for the FDP, and green.

In the coming weeks, their leaders will haggle not just about ministerial posts but also red-line policy issues that are sometimes diametrically opposed.

Among flashpoint topics will be questions surrounding the more than one million asylum seekers who arrived in Germany since 2015.

The CDU’s Bavarian allies, the CSU, have signalled a tough stance on immigration to win back voters who have drifted to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

They would find an ally in Christian Lindner, the leader of the FDP, who made a comeback after a dismal previous governing stint in the shadow of Merkel.

Lindner on Friday insisted that there must be a “clear time limit for the residency of war refugees in Germany”.

“On war refugees, the aim is not integration in Germany, but their return to their homeland after the end of the war to help rebuild it,” he told regional newspaper group Suedwest Presse.

But the Greens are more welcoming towards refugees and also proponents of European “solidarity” — while the FDP has said it will not accept German taxpayers footing the bill for any attempts at shoring up the EU.

The Greens will push issues like fighting climate change and promoting renewable energy, likely to be opposed by the more pro-business parties.

All players are highly reluctant to make major concessions, said Oskar Niedermayer of Berlin’s Free University: the FDP because it has previously wilted in Merkel’s shadow, the Greens because they face their environmentalist base and the CSU because it must win Bavarian elections next year.

“So, I’m still very, very sceptical,” said Niedermayer.

“But of course it is also clear that all sides are under great pressure. Because the alternatives — a minority government or fresh elections — are something the German people do not want.”

AFP