Don Jannis, who cyberbullied Schalke 04 goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand, issued a personal apology today.
Jannis of course posted this on the player’s Facebook wall over the weekend: “You dumb bastard. Please shoot/kill yourself. You can’t do anything.”
Jannis (assume that’s only his Facebook name) regrets his words and admits he didn’t think before posting the message.
According to Waz, Jannis is still a student and a fan of the team.
I’ve translated the apology below:
With this letter I would like to apologize for my word choice. I didn’t think that my Facebook comment would create such a stir. What I wrote was rash and I didn’t mean it. I am myself a huge Schalke fan and I get happy every time they win. I was disappointed because of the last few games. But that doesn’t justify my statement.
I wish you much success in the next few games.
Lots of love,
Hildebrand accepted the letter of apology and wished to no longer dwell on the topic.
“At first I was shocked, yet all of this isn’t a drama. He received enough pressure and fire for it.”
According to Bild, the goalie was more than willing to even meet the fan in person, but Jannis rejected the invitation out of fear of going public and revealing his identity at this time.
Fans express their support and upset in varying forms. Consumption is usually the most pervasive shape, whether it’s attending games or buying jerseys and paraphernalia sporting the clubs’ logos and colours.
For the most part these are friendly and innocent expressions of fandom, but what happens when things get out of hand?
Rio Ferdinand was cut in the face when a supporter in the stands threw a coin at him. Then of course, there’s the racial abuse black players face on a reoccurring basis in the European leagues.
While these sorts of confrontations are despicable, they are often limited to the pitches.
In the past few years, however, a new trend has emerged on the Internet. It’s called athlete cyberbullying.
On Saturday a fan by the name of Don Jannis posted the following on Schalke 04 goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand’s Facebook wall.
“You dumb bastard. Please shoot/kill yourself. You can’t do anything.”
It was a response to die Koenigsblauen 3-0 loss to Nuremberg that day.
Hildebrand said he was shocked and refused to tolerate the insult, which is one reason as to why he made it public. As of today, the post had 3,666 comments and 2,086 likes. Fans are obviously writing messages of support for Hildebrand and condemning the bully.
We can only speculate as to why the fan posted such a cruel message. There is a possibility he wrote the comment in the heat of the moment. He was probably just frustrated at his team’s current dip in performance and merely wanted to vent his anger on social media.
But does that make it acceptable? It’s common for people to retract on their spiteful words, yet harassment is still harassment.
In Germany alone this is a very sensitive topic. Only four years ago the country mourned the suicide of national keeper Robert Enke. Of course Enke didn’t kill himself because he was being bullied, but his death opened up the debate on athletes and mental health as well as the role undue pressure plays in exacerbating an athlete’s condition.
Although it’s only an opinion, words still have impact and can weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of athletes. Imagine waking up to this sort of negativity on a daily basis? And footballers aren’t the only ones derided on social media.
The recent case of Canadian tennis player Rebecca Marino (who has taken a break from the sport), brought the problem to the forefront.
“I was getting some messages saying I should go die, that I should go burn in hell, that I’m a dumbass, that I’m an idiot, that I lost them money.”
Unfortunately, the current environment is conducive to cyberbullying. In a society where communication is moving further away from face to face contact and to a world of anonymity, bullies can hide behind screens and words.
The Toronto Star talked at length about the problem a month ago.
Leafs defenceman John-Michael Liles believes the anonymity of social media makes people bold and, in some cases, vicious.
“You hear about bullying, it exists on all levels. It’s not just high school. It’s towards athletes, co-workers, whatever,” he said.
“It’s tough because I think when you have a computer or have a cellphone there’s a lot of anonymity.
“I think people tend to take that to some pretty extreme degrees and that’s the unfortunate part about it.
Have people lost their sanity? Footballers and athletes in general are already under tremendous pressure to perform and succeed. Besides athletes may be blessed with greater physical skills, yet they are still human. Their DNA doesn’t make them immune to ridicule and attack.
Some may argue footballers need to realize the abuse is part of the territory; it comes along with the fame and money. (Unless of course it’s Joey Barton, then the roles are reversed for the most part.)
Luckily, for Don Jannis, Hildebrand has decided not to press charges.
With that in mind, aren’t we as a society sometimes too passionate about the most pettiest of human events? To overreact about a loss is human caprice, but understanding that it’s only a defeat in sport may anchor our perspective. So that the next time our impulses take over let’s remember that there are far more serious issues such as war and poverty that we can direct our efforts and energy towards.
Above clip is from the film, Das Boot, where one of the sailors informs the rest of his crew that their favourite team Schalke 04 has lost the match 5-0.
If there’s one verifiable truth in football, it’s the absence of invincibility. Careers are never guaranteed. Whether it’s individuals, who so marvelously handle the ball on the field, or the great minds who shrewdly stitch teams into cohesive units, disposability is the norm.
If coaches can’t achieve simple goals for success, they part ways with a club. While sackings probably don’t play out as ruthlessly as they do in Donald Trump’s reality TV boardroom (there’s probably more tact and respect involved) clubs rarely hesitate to fire an underperforming or losing manager.
Gelsenkirchen’s Schalke 04 coach Huub Stevens was no exception. Neither his ‘Jahrhunderttrainer’ (Coach of the Century) badge nor the club’s motto ‘Blau und Weiss, ein Leben Lang’ (blue and white, for life/lifelong) could have saved him from the inevitable.
Stevens’ recent stint wasn’t his first with the Koenigsblauen. He coached there from 1996 to 2002. Under his successful reign Schalke won the UEFA Cup in 1997, the German Cup twice (2001, 2002) and were Bundesliga runners-up in 2001.
When Stevens came back on board last year, he inherited a team that placed 14th the year before with one of the league’s highest loss rate. But Schalke’s fortunes fared better under the Dutchman. The team finished third and qualified for the Champions League.
This year he was praised for the team’s stellar start to the season, described as one of the best in the club’s history. The Bayern-Jaeger (Bayern hunters) lagged behind Bayern Munich by only a few points and went on to triumph against reigning champions Borussia Dortmund in the Ruhr Derby. They performed equally well in the European club competition, unbeaten thus far with an impressive 2-0 triumph over Arsenal, and top in its group.
Suddenly it all came to a halt. The team began to crumble (at least in the second half of the first-half of the season). Schalke hasn’t won a match since mid November in their last six meetings (2 draws, 4 losses) and have dropped from third to seventh in the league.
Although the loss against Freiburg sealed Stevens’ fate, in reality, his career was in free-fall since a 2-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. It wasn’t until the losses began to multiply that frustration set in, especially at upper management.
As is most often the case in football, the coach bore the brunt of the responsibility.
“We no longer had confidence in this lineup to bring about changes,” said Horst Heldt, the club’s manager.
But Stevens’ instinct that morning already told him he was done with the club.
“When Horst Heldt called me at quarter to eight am to come to his office, I knew my time had come since Heldt doesn’t normally come so early to the grounds,” he said.
From fans to the media, all searched for reasons to explain the dip in performance. A fair share in German media, however, didn’t blame the coach entirely. Solidarity and sympathy were some common themes in the newspapers after his sacking. A few argued the release said more about the club and less about Stevens’ coaching skills, fairly reasonable considering the club’s prolific turnover rate for coaches. From Jupp Heynckes and Ralf Rangnick to Felix Magath and Mirko Slomka, all will attest to the enormous pressure at Schalke.
The club is not alone in its chaotic turnover. Schalke is the German equivalent of Chelsea (minus the wealthy Russian sugar daddy, of course). Chelsea has had nine different coaches since May of 2004. Schalke, on the other hand, has had 12 in roughly the same period (closer to 11 if you discount Ralf Rangnick’s last spell since he stepped down after feeling burned out).
But that’s something Stevens was aware of when he signed up to coach this club for a second time. As early as 2009, he made the following comments about Schalke when asked if he would replace Fred Rutten at the club.
“There’s too much disturbance from the top,” he was quoted as saying in Die Zeit.
That year, however, was rife with bizarre rumours involving the club. At one point, speculation even hinted at Oliver Kahn taking the job. Despite the pressure, there were other distracting issues surrounding some of the club’s players. The Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Lewis Holtby trade rumours in all likelihood only further compounded the situation.
Players were quick to defend their coach. Only two weeks ago, Jermaine Jones said, “The coach is stood on the touchline; it is we on the field who have the responsibility…We should not be using the coach as an excuse for our current performances.”
But his superiours expressed a different view. According to Spiegel Online, Clemens Toennies, who sits on the club’s supervisory board, said Stevens had lost his ability to get through to the players.
Certainly Champions League success alone wasn’t enough. Heldt made it clear that the Bundesliga is its main focus. That means Steven’s successor Jens Keller must produce results otherwise he’ll follow in the footsteps of his predecessors. But there’s a huge question mark around him given his inexperience. He previously served as head coach in Stuttgart. It was a short-lived stint and lasted a mere two months.
A risky endeavour for a club so keen on winning, but one that can also prove rewarding if Keller proves as successful as Mirko Slomka, who barely had any top-level experience yet managed to take Schalke to the UEFA Cup semi-final.
So far Keller’s record isn’t very telling. He’s only had one game under his belt, a home defeat to Mainz in this week’s German Cup that only added to the team’s misfortunes since the loss also marked Schalke’s exit from the competition.
But disposability or not, coaches are fully aware of the nature of their jobs and comebacks almost always ensue. Even Felix Magath just announced that he’ll return to coaching next year, so too expect to see Stevens albeit perhaps at a different club.
* Used the terms coach, manager and trainer interchangeably (although coach and manger are two separate roles in Germany). Here they all mean the same thing except in Horst Heldt’s case.
The Champions League last 16 draw is complete and the results are official. Kudos to you if you actually woke up at 4 am this morning to catch it live (you’re a true soccer lover in our book).
Oddly enough, it was the exact same outcome as Wednesday’s rehearsal. Yes, we too are trying to figure out the math behind those probabilities, still working on it though.
Nonetheless, here are the results:
Real Madrid vs Manchester United
Arsenal vs Bayern Munich
Milan vs Barcelona
Borussia Dortmund vs Shakhtar Donetsk
Celtic vs Juventus
Porto vs Malaga
Valencia vs Paris Saint-Germain
Galatasaray vs Schalke
Arguably, the road only gets harder from here on. With the most talked about pairing this morning: Real Madrid vs. Manchester United. With both the English and the Spanish media calling it ‘mouth-watering’, but whether or not it’ll live up to its description only time will tell. On paper at least it does appear to have all the ingredients for a great showdown.
Not only because they’re both strong teams, but also because there’s a brief, yet exciting history behind the two clubs. Both teams haven’t gone head-to-head for the past nine years. The last time they did meet it was a feast for the eyes with Madrid triumphing 6-5 on aggregate.
As with this upcoming match, that one also featured a Ronaldo, the Brazilian who scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford. Only this time around it’ll be Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese international will return to his old playground since his move in 2009.
Not to be left out of the equation, is the face-off between old rivals Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, two of the best coaches in the game. Both are strategic and excellent tacticians with either one able to outsmart the other.
Of course, this Madrid team isn’t the same team as that of 2003, which included the likes of Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, Carlos, Makelele. In fact, some might argue this isn’t even the same team as last year. Madrid has been struggling domestically this season and are 13 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona. Still, with its ability to play a very high-paced and attacking game, the Los Blancos will be a handful for United.
As for the Red Devils, the outcome of this phase will likely put to rest some of the criticism it’s been receiving about its strength on the European stage. This will test if United is still a powerhouse in Europe or only in the Premier League.
But with all the hype surrounding this match, let’s not forget about the seven other incredible matches in the competition.
As viewers it’s natural to gravitate to the teams we support or to the coupling of two (yet not the only) big names. Except that the most talked about coupling may or may not turn out to be the more entertaining soccer.
It seems like viewers of this sport are creatures of habit. Did we already forget about the group of death? Experts and pundits initially branded it not only as the toughest group (rightly so), but also as the one that would probably offer the most enjoyable soccer. Enjoyable? Meh! It was decent soccer, which never really lived up to expectations.
There were certainly individual teams in that group, which played exciting football such as Borussia Dortmund. But was it the best soccer in the Champions League group stage with respect to battles? You be the judge of that.
As for the Bayern and Arsenal match-up, while the former are clear favourites, one shouldn’t rule out the latter. After all, the Bavarians were upstaged at home in last year’s final by none other than Chelsea, who were the weaker team with all odds against them, but luck.
Then there’s Barcelona against AC Milan, a rivalry rich in history and championships that may prove to be a tighter race than expected. But the biggest surprise of the tournament were Celtic, which is why Antonio Conte just revealed today that he won’t underestimate them, especially after they managed to pull off a win against Barcelona.
I personally think Borussia Dortmund and Shakhtar Donetsk will provide viewers with some unbelievable soccer. But this is the beauty of the game as well as the Champions League. Not only is it unpredictable in nature, as last year validated, but it’s also offers something for an array of tastes.
The spectators at Veltins Arena see two games in one match, with the home side overcoming a two goal deficit to add to Arsenal’s woes.
Andre Santos found the bench, after slipping and falling, as Arsene Wenger moved captain Thomas Vermaelen to left back and inserted Laurent Koscielny beside Per Mertesacker. It was a move greeted with a sigh of relief from Gooners thoroughly dissatisfied with the Brazilian’s antics. In their last meeting Die Königsblauen destroyed Arsenal on the flanks. Even with the scourge of Santos removed the Gunners would be in tough. Schalke had only lost one match at home this year — against Bayern Munich.
Vermaelen’s chief task on this day, dealing with Jefferson Farfan, would determine Arsenal’s fate. The first half saw the visitors on the attack for most of the 45 minutes, a welcome change from Saturday’s weak performance.
In the 18th minute Theo Walcott opened the scoring on a broken play. Olivier Giroud fought his way into the box only to be taken down by Roman Neustädter. Walcott took over and did extremely well to control the ball and find the back of the net. In a 180 from their last meeting, Arsenal dominated the wing play early.
Lukas Podolski was the best player on the pitch in the first half. In the 26th minute, the German’s cross found Giroud unmarked in the box. 2-0 Arsenal. The Frenchman tormented Joel Matip and Benedikt Höwedes.
They were home free. Heading into the half with a two goal lead in a tough place to play would’ve been incredibly uplifting for Wenger’s club. Nothing ever works out for this club, at least currently. Santi Cazorla’s slip – he wasn’t alone, players were falling all over the place — led to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s goal just before half. With momentum gone the Gunners were in trouble.
We saw this against Manchester United — Arsenal reverted to a 4-1-4-1 formation with Mikel Arteta acting as the back four’s babysitter. Schalke had an excellent chance five minutes into the final period. A Mertesacker slip allowed Huntelaar in alone with Vito Mannone. The Arsenal keeper did extremely well to keep his side ahead. Though the score remained 2-1, it was clear an equalizer was coming.
Schalke was the better team in the second half, Ibrahim Afellay and Farfan turned a negative into a positive, reasserting themselves on the flanks and the Peruvian leveled the game in the 67th minute. Farfan was alone in the box, Vermaelen trapped between his former and current roles. Though the goal was not aesthetically appealing, Schalke deserved it. 20 minutes of concentrated pressure in the attacking zone was bound to produce.
The last twenty minutes were relatively uneventful. Lewis Holtby — who was fantastic throughout — and Jermaine Jones quelled any Arsenal attempts to move forward. It seemed as though both teams were comfortable with a draw, even though the result at Karaiskakis Stadium indicated otherwise.
In the most uninspiring substitution in footballing history, Wenger introduced Santos and Francis Coquelin for Cazorla and Podolski. Arsenal’s lack of depth was readily apparent once again.
Walcott’s last minute chance was the last gasp in a game that died with 20 minutes to go.
A quick look at the stat line tells the story. Schalke dominated in tackles, shots on goal and corners. Arsenal’s willingness to sit back and let their opponents dictate play is a trend that has been on display for the last month.
Group B remains muddled. Schalke is still on top with Arsenal trailing by a point and Olympiacos a point behind them. Plenty to play for with two matches remaining.
This past weekend in Germany, Hoffenheim defeated Schalke 3-2. An unremarkable result, perhaps, but Hoffenheim enjoyed only 27% possession, according to whoscored.com.
You might wonder whether it’s possible Schalke didn’t manage to do anything with their possession. Perhaps they took a defensive posture and passed the ball near or in their own half.
Yet Schalke managed 23 shots to Hoffenheim’s 6. If we calculate Schalke’s total shots ratio (James Grayson’s beautifully simple predictive metric explained here), it comes out to .79, which if plotted out over the course of an entire season is commensurate with Champions League qualification (TSR, as Grayson details, is a good measure of ball control, and of all the available metrics it performs best in relation to table position over the long term). If we take Schalke’s shots on target ratio (SOTR), it’s an equally impressive .71.
You and I both know the answer as to why Schalke lost despite dominating in every meaningful way: this is one game out of 38 for the season. Schalke need not panic (and they won’t); if they perform as well over the course of the whole season, chances are they will finish closer to the top of the table.
But this isn’t entirely a matter of small sample size (although it basically mostly is). There is also the ‘goal problem’ detailed today in a post from Chris Andersen at Soccer by the Numbers. In keeping with simple, lovely metrics, Andersen carefully points out the importance of both sample size and distribution. He notes that while shots are generally evenly distributed over a large sample of games, shots on target are slightly less evenly-distributed, and goals are “rare and certainly not “normal” (in the statistical sense).” Andersen goes on from this example to write what could be the two most important paragraphs in soccer analytics this year:
When we take these individual match numbers of shots, accurate shots, and goals – of which there were 32,789, 10,396, and 2,954 across the three seasons we collected data for – and put them in relation to each other, it turns out that the odds of any one shot actually being on target was 32%, while the odds of an accurate shot finding the back of the net was similarly around 30 % (28% to be exact). Plenty of teams shoot enough to score, but very few of them consistently score.
Clearly, “normal” football isn’t always normally distributed. As a general rule, the more common an event on the pitch is, the more the distribution looks like a bell-shaped curve (graph the frequency of passes per match and you’ll see what I mean). This has important implications: using some of the most common statistical techniques to deal with these data may be problematic, standard (canned) versions of techniques like correlations and linear regression assume normally distributed data. The stuff we care about the most – goals – is the least “normal” of all the events above. But as importantly, think about what the picture above tells us: there is enormous slippage from one stage of the goal production process to the next. Understanding why and how this slippage occurs should be important questions for any budding analyst.
We know a bit of the answer to this question: a team in better control of the ball is likely to finish higher in the table, in part because ball control makes scoring more likely. It may not matter how this translates to a single, ninety minute game, particularly if high table finish broadly correlates with consistently high TSR. Obviously the ideal would be figuring out consistent in-game means of increasing shot-to-goal ratios to prevent a freak result, but that may be a pipe dream (although the EPL Index believes it may be onto something, although their sample is a mere 9 games).
In any case, Schalke’s loss to Hoffenheim is a true outlier. It was statistically unlikely, Schalke controlled the ball, used it well, and still lost. If you were to plot the likelihood of a Hoffenheim win based on the post-game possession and shots statistics alone, chances are it would be low, perhaps (pullin this out of my arse here) in the 20% range. But, as with any weather forecast, that doesn’t denote certainty, only an empirically-sound probability. The romantics can still shout, “Football, bloody hell!”, and the nerds can still feel confident in their methods.
Die Königsblauen and their boisterous fans leave The Emirates with three points and the carcass of a lifeless Arsenal squad that managed to make Saturday’s result at Carrow Road seem positive in comparison.
Heading in we knew Schalke had the firepower to give a porous Arsenal defense problems. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Ibrahim Afellay, Jefferson Farfán and Atsuto Uchida would be a handful for Steve Bould’s men — Arsene Wenger was made to serve one more game in exile. Unfortunately he still had to watch.
Though they controlled the play early, Arsenal (read: Gervinho) were wasteful. Once again the Gunners had the Ivorian play alone at top, finding little success. Only late in the second half did Podolski and Gervinho swap positions but at that point it was too late. Santi Cazorla was effective in the first half but the lack of movement from his teammates was galling.
In the fourteenth minute Arteta was dispossessed by Farfan, who sent a low cross into the box that neither Jenkinson or Mannone wanted to touch. If Afellay accepts Mannone’s contact he has a penalty. Unfortunately, the Dutchman opted for a lazy dive and drew a yellow card.
The sloppy passing that plagued the Gunners on Saturday was on display once again. Aaron Ramsey, Andre Santos and Francis Coquelin do not have the quality to play in these types of games. When the passing was on — albeit briefly — they couldn’t get a shot on goal.
Santos was victimized by Farfan and Uchida all game. 56% of Schalke’s attacks game from the right side. Towards the end of the half the Schalke had their best chance of the game. Uchida left Santos 20 yards behind him before finding Huntelaar in the box. Luckily for the home side the normally sure footed striker missed. Zeroes at half, but the scoreline was misleading. For Arsenal, the worst was yet to come.
Arsenal began the final period with promise. Cazorla, wielding his magic wand, again the talisman. A Santos cross found the foot of Coquelin, who failed to deliver an adequate cross into the box. I’m not exaggerating when I say that minor threat was Arsenal’s best chance on goal — for the entire game. Their first shot on target came three minutes into extra time for goodness sake.
Farfan was fantastic throughout, but I thought he could’ve challenged Santos even more. Rather than drop the ball off to Uchida, the Peruvian international would’ve done well to continue towards goal — it’s not like there was a formidable presence waiting to stop him.
In the 76th minute the visitors finally got the goal they deserved. Once again an attack from the right led to a cross that was clumsily cleared by the Gunners defense. Huntelaar, afforded a ridiculous amount of space for a player of his caliber, got in behind Mertesacker and Vermaelen, calmly slotting home the games first goal and the only one Schalke would need.
Looking for boost to get a lackadaisical team going, Bould sent Arshavin and Gnabry on for Podolski and Jenkinson. Playing without a leftback, Arsenal was quickly exposed on a counter — from the right, again — that saw Affelay tap in a Farfan cross and send Gooners to the exits.
Arsenal suffer their first home defeat in the champions league to a continental side since 2003 as Schalke take over top spot in Group B.
Optimistic Gooners will point to the many absences from the team on this day — Diaby, Wilshere, Rosicky, Sagna, Walcott, Chamberlain and Gibbs — but this isn’t an issue unique to Arsenal. The Champions League requires a level of depth the Gunners do not have. Much of the talk in the wake of this defeat will focus on the lack of a RVP type ‘finisher’ but that wasn’t the problem. This team needs three or four more quality players to be legitimate contenders in England, let alone Europe.