Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the Euro 2012 quarter final between Germany and Greece on Friday, a spokesman said, a match with plenty of resonance off the field amid a crippling economic crisis.
‘She is hoping for an exciting and fair match,’ the government`s deputy spokesman Georg Streiter told reporters at a regular news conference on Wednesday.
Merkel will fly from a crucial four-way summit with the leaders of Italy, Spain and France in Rome which jittery financial markets are watching closely for signs of long-term solutions to the eurozone`s painful debt crisis.
Germany coach Joachim Loew has sought to play down the wider political significance of the match in the Polish city of Gdansk, telling reporters he is preparing his side for ‘a normal football contest.’
But with Merkel cutting an unpopular figure in Greece for her insistence on painful austerity measures as the best response to the crisis, the match has taken on an added intensity.
The German football association (DFB) said Merkel`s presence was sure to be a good omen for the clash.
‘The last two internationals that the chancellor watched at the stadium resulted in big wins for the German team: 3-0 on October 8 against Turkey in Berlin and 4-0 in the World Cup quarter-final against Argentina in Cape Town,’ the DFB said.
While politicians and footballers have downplayed the crisis angle, newspapers in both countries have stoked the enmity.
‘Bring us Merkel,’ read a headline in Goal News, while Germany`s mass circulation Bild splashed: ‘Poor Greeks, we`ll give you your next bankruptcy for free.’
Asked if Merkel might take advantage of the match to meet Greece`s likely next leader Antonis Samaras, Streiter said the trip ‘was all about sport’ and quipped that if there were to be such a meeting, ‘it might be at half-time.’
The announcement of Merkel`s attendance at the match in Poland came as the British government said none of its ministers will go to England`s Euro 2012 quarter-final against Italy, which takes place in co-host Ukraine.
Anger is running high across Europe over the treatment of jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, and other governments have been putting mounting pressure on Ukraine.
No British ministers attended England`s three group matches – against France, Sweden and Ukraine – as they were all staged in Ukraine, though the ambassador to Kiev did go.
BDST: 1355 HRS, June 21, 2012
Edited by: Manoz Halder, Newsroom Editor
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