Brazil have pinched two Bayern Munich players for their pre-Confederations Cup training, attracting ire from Säbener Strasse. Dante and Luiz Gustavo, victims of "psychological terror," will miss the German Cup final.
Bayern Munich's chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was visibly irked on Thursday when he announced that Brazilians Dante and Luiz Gustavo had departed for training with the national team ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup being held in Brazil in the last two weeks of June.
"You get the clear impression that a kind of psychological terror was exerted on both of them," Rummenigge said. The Bayern boss suggested that the players were made aware that their Brazil careers could be at an end unless they turned up on time for training ahead of the competition. "What that means for Brazilians, with their relationship to the national side, is easy to envisage. I find this pressure inhuman, a little unscrupulous and a little unfair."
Bayern Munich play Stuttgart in the German Cup final on Saturday, Dante was all-but certain to start in central defense for the injury-stricken side in the last match of their season. The Bundesliga and Champions League winners are seeking a treble in a record-breaking year.
The controversy was exacerbated as Brazil allowed young star striker Neymar, who has just signed with Spanish giants Barcelona, to leave the training camp to participate in a photo-shoot and unveiling ceremony in his honor in Catalonia. Neymar will leave after Brazil's friendly match on Sunday against England, ready for a Monday appointment in Spain, meaning he won't be missing a Brazil match.
Bayern's vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger said his teammates were unhappy with the situation, which he described as "simply sad."
Bilateral peace talks stalled
The German Cup final is taking place unusually late in the calendar year, but the German football association (DFB) said that it expected that a deal would have been possible with international football associations in the event of a clash.
"It's absolutely inexplicable for us that the Brazilians are adopting such an obstinate stance," DFB secretary general Helmut Sandrock said.
Brazil's technical director Carlos Alberto Parreira dismissed talk of a dispute using a somewhat hyperbolic political comparison. He said that clashes between club and country were an age old, irresolvable problem, saying it was "like the situation with Israelis and Palestinians," insofar as it never seemed to stop.
Bayern remain runaway favorites for the German Cup final on Saturday, but are almost out of bodies at the back. Daniel van Buyten and Jerome Boateng are the only established remaining out-and-out center backs in the senior squad, although defensive midfielders Javi Martinez and Anatoly Tymoshchuk are competent in the position.
Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia said the absence made little difference to his side's chances, "because Bayern have two or three top-class options for any position on the pitch."
Luiz Gustavo was unlikely to start the match, but Dante has become a key defender since joining from Borussia Mönchengladbach last summer. With lengthy injuries to Boateng in the first half of the season and then fellow German international Holger Badstuber, Dante has played more games at center back than any other Bayern player this season. His solid form at a higher-profile club helped the 29-year-old earn his first ever international cap this January, at an unusually late stage in his career.