Injured German skipper Michael Ballack's agent has sparked a controversy by reportedly launching a bizarre attack on the national team by branding some unnamed players a "bunch of gays".
Michael Becker, a close adviser to Ballack since 1999, made the remarks two months before the World Cup, according to an essay in German magazine Der Spiegel.
In the essay entitled New German Men, Alexander Osang recounts an interview he had with Becker prior to the World Cup in which the agent allegedly told him which of the players in the team were gay.
A few days later, Becker told a group of journalists and players' managers at a match played by Ballack's new club Bayer Leverkusen that there was a former national player who was going to expose a "bunch of queers" within the national team, The Guardian reports.
Osang concluded that homosexuality was "a synonym for anything that Becker did not understand."
Apparently that included the lighter, more elegant style of play encouraged under the leadership of Germany coach Joachim Loew.
Becker has neither denied nor confirmed that he made the comments, but has since said that he was "misunderstood" and that the interview was not "authorized", a common journalistic practice in Germany whereby the interviewee has the right to change his remarks after the interview.Osang said that he stood by his article, saying that Becker had told him "unbelievable stories that I took down in my notebook and Becker didn't seem to have anything against me doing so".