Frings suspended but Germany confident

Germany thinks it has the depth to survive the suspension of midfielder Torsten Frings for its World Cup semifinal match against Italy.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Germany thinks it has the depth to survive the suspension of midfielder Torsten Frings for its World Cup semifinal match against Italy. Frings has been one of the key players in helping the Germans to five straight victories at the tournament, but the 29-year-old was banned on Monday after new video evidence prompted FIFA to investigate his involvement in a post-match melee with Argentina in the quarterfinals. The suspension keeps Frings out of Tuesday's match against Italy in Dortmund. "We are disappointed," team manager Oliver Bierhoff said. "Our opinion was that we laid down the reasons for an acquittal. The whole team is surprised." Bierhoff added that Frings had been reacting to provocation and that referee Lubos Michel and his assistants were next to Frings and had not taken action. "All we can do now is accept the decision. We will now concentrate on the Italy game and we are optimistic that Frings will return for the final," Bierhoff said. Frings was banned for two matches - with one suspended for six months - and fined 4,075 dollars. That means he can play in either the final or the third-place match at the World Cup, but will have to sit out a second game if he is charged with any other kind of misconduct over the next six months. Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann said his team would be ready for anything. "Everyone has to be prepared physically and mentally whenever one player has to be replaced, for a booking, suspension or injury," Klinsmann said. The players also seemed confident. "Whoever comes in is ready to come in and do the job. Sebastian Kehl is just as good a player as Torsten Frings," Germany captain Michael Ballack said. Klinsmann had seemed confident Frings would be cleared, announcing the midfielder would mark Italy forward Francesco Totti. Officials had to separate German and Argentine players who scuffled for several minutes at the end of Friday's quarterfinal match. The German players were celebrating in the center of the field after beating Argentina 4-2 on penalties when the skirmish began. "We have to remember the brawl originated from Argentina. We were only reacting. After the game, emotions ran high. The referee reacted, that should be it," Klinsmann said. Argentina players Maxi Rodriguez and Leandro Cufre were cited over the weekend for their roles in the skirmish. Initially, FIFA initially said no German players would face investigation. But video showing Frings appearing to strike out at an Argentine player was broadcast on public television in Germany on Saturday. According to FIFA, its disciplinary committee did not see it until Sunday. Footage from the 24 TV cameras at Berlin's Olympic Stadium were reviewed because Frings' involvement did not appear on the official match broadcast. "Well, it's strange that once the case is closed it is reopened," Ballack said. (AP)