HANOVER (Reuters) - Germany coach Joachim Loew hopes his team’s friendly against the Netherlands on Tuesday will be a “symbol for freedom” and show everyone that the world is united with France following the deadly attacks in Paris on Friday.
The world champions were playing France in Paris on Friday as a wave of attacks hit the city, killing more than 130 people.
The contingent of 80 Germans, including players, coaches and staff, spent Friday night holed up inside the Stade de France stadium as the attacks took place across the capital before leaving straight for the airport on Saturday morning.
”This game is a clear symbol for freedom and democracy, for unity, sympathy and mourning for and with our French friends,“ Loew told a news conference on Monday. ”Our thoughts will be with the families and friends of the victims. We will be mourning with them.
“The rivalry with the Dutch will obviously move into the background. This game will take place for much different sets of values.”
Loew said his first reaction after the attacks was that it would be impossible to play the friendly against the Dutch only four days later. But after a day of thinking about it, coaching staff, players and the German football association decided it should go ahead as planned.
“In this state of shock ... some asked ‘how can we play in a few days again’. But on Sunday we again talked with the players and the opinion was that it would be good to play, to send a signal, to play for our values.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the game in Hanover along with members of her cabinet in a show of solidarity with the French.
The German Football Association (DFB)’s Interim President Reinhard Rauball has said the team wants to send a signal that they would not “be intimidated by terror”.
Captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Manuel Neuer have been given a rest day, Jonas Hector and Jerome Boateng are nursing minor injuries while teenager Leroy Sane has left to join the Under-21 team.
”Obviously the focus today will not be so much on the game tomorrow,“ Loew said. ”Today we will talk about other things such as why we decided to play the game. The symbolism for this game.
“Obviously you cannot go over to daily agenda easily. But despite everything we still want to deliver a concentrated effort.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar