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Merkel consoles, Germany stays tuned to World Cup
Published : 11 Jul 2011 14:00:20
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has thanked the national team despite their shock quarter-final exit from the women's World Cup, while German fans continue to tune in to female football.
The hosts were knocked out on Saturday when Japan poached a goal in extra-time to book a semi-final place against Sweden in Frankfurt on Wednesday, wrecking the Germans' bid to win a third straight World Cup title.
Many German players were tearful on the Wolfsburg pitch after the final whistle.
Things went from bad to worse on Sunday when Sweden's win 3-1 over Australia meant Germany also miss out on a place at next year's Olympic tournament at London 2012.
France and Sweden have taken the two Olympic berths available to European teams, while Great Britain also qualify as hosts.
Despite the double batch of bad news, Merkel contacted German coach Silvia Neid to thank her and her team for their efforts.
"I called Silvia Neid and thanked her and the team for all the joy they have given us," Merkel told Sport Bild.
"That is the way it goes sometimes in sport - hopefully after not too long a period of disappointment, they will set new targets and us fans will be there to support them."
Due to a state visit to Poland, Merkel was only able to watch the tense closing phase of the game against Japan on the internet.
"I'm very sorry for the players and the whole staff that it did not work out in the end," said Merkel.
There is a media backlash here after the defeat and debate is raging whether Neid should now stay on and the 47-year-old is coming in for fierce criticism.
"She's the best coach that we can have," said Theo Zwanziger, president of the German Football Federation (DFB), by way of defence after extending Neid's contract until 2016 just before the tournament started.
Accusations of tactical mistakes, poor choice of substitutes and a lack of leadership have all been leveled at Neid.
But despite seeing their side knocked out, Germans are still tuning into watch the tournament.
Just over six million watched the USA beat Brazil 5-3 on penalties in Sunday's quarter-final, which made up nearly 30 percent of the market.
On average, 16.95 million Germans tuned in to the defeat against Japan and similar figures were recorded for Germany's three group matches.
It is not just Germany games that have been attracting viewers: 6.88 million fans saw England lose to France on penalties in the quarter-final.