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German FA defend decision to fly to Basel as fans’ rage

Berlin (AFP) – The German FA on Monday defended it’s decision to fly the team 240km (149 miles) from Stuttgart to Basel for an international against Switzerland as angry fans pointed out the environmental impact.

Joachim Loew’s Germany slipped to their second draw in three days after conceding a second-half equaliser on Sunday to draw 1-1 against the Swiss. The result leaves the Germans third in their Nations League group.

Frustrated by the result, German fans used social media to vent their anger after the team flew the short distance in a private jet, rather than use more environmentally-friendly options of train or bus. 

“Stupid”, “anti-social”, “oblivious to the future” – were some of the comments posted.

The supporters’ mood was not helped as the German Football Association (DFB) published a sustainability report in 2019.

“We can understand the critical voices and take the resulting discussion as an opportunity to question how we can take sustainability into account more in our planning,” said Germany team director Oliver Bierhoff in a statement.

Bierhoff said the brief flight was safer for the players than a three-and-a-half hour train journey, which would have involved a change.

“We were focused on the team’s hygiene safety and optimal conditions to ensure their physical recovery,” added Bierhoff.

“From this point of view, the plane, with a short flight time, was clearly a better choice than a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride or train journey with changes.”

Bierhoff said the priority was to “ensure” the players “return healthy” to their respective clubs.

The DFB also pointed out that the use of charter flights are recommended by European football’s governing body UEFA during the pandemic.

Germany’s Paris Saint Germain defender Thilo Kehrer backed the decision to fly, because it makes a “difference whether you sit for three-and-a-half hours or 45 minutes”.

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