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Ballack apologises for Loew blow

SoccerNews in Bundesliga, English Premier League 26 Oct 2008

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Germany captain Michael Ballack has apologised to national team coach Joachim Loew for comments made last week in a German newspaper criticising him for showing a lack of respect to senior players.

“I must acknowledge it was unfortunately an error to chose this way (to communicate),” Chelsea midfielder Ballack said in a statement.

“I will meet with Joachim Loew as soon as my health allows and I will apologise to him for my behaviour.”

Ballack first apologised to Loew in a telephone conversation on Saturday evening and the pair have agreed to meet in Germany once Chelsea allows him to travel from London after recovering from his foot operation.

But Loew has made it clear the future role of Ballack in the national team will depend on the outcome of the conversation.

“I have registered the explanation of Michael Ballack,” said Loew on the German Football Federation (DFB) website.

“The personal discussion is much more important. Afterwards, I will give a concluding statement.”

The pair are expected to meet in the next seven days once the stitches from Ballack's operation have been removed.

The row between the pair erupted last Tuesday in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) when Ballack criticised Loew and said senior players in last June's Euro 2008 squad were being treated unfairly.

“Experienced national players deserve at least some respect and loyalty,” Ballack had said following Germany's wins over Russia and Wales in World Cup qualifiers.

“There was a group of experienced players in that squad like Torsten Frings, Miroslav Klose and me whose achievements have suddenly been questioned and we find ourselves under attack.”

But Ballack, 32, has now back-tracked on the FAZ interview and said he never intended to attack Loew.

“I telephoned Jogi Loew again on Saturday and said it was never my intention to criticise his work as national team coach, but primarily to protect and support my fellow players in a difficult situation,” said Ballack.

“I have a high opinion of Jogi Loew as a coach and a person.

“Comments in the interview were made due to the situation and were not meant to be personal.

“I did not want to attack anyone, but to openly address and criticise issues which were close to my heart.

“But I do not stand by the contents of that interview any more.”

Ballack has already been in hot-water with the DFB this year after his on-field argument with Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff immediately after the Euro 2008 final against Spain in June.

With Germany set to face England at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on November 19 it remains to be seen if Ballack will captain 'die Mannschaft' for the friendly international – or for future matches.

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