Ashkan Dejagah 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Ashkan Dejagah's future as a Germany international is likely over, after the German Football Federation (DFB) decided to suspend him from all national team activity.
The Iranian-born Wolfsburg midfielder pulled out of an Under 21 match in Tel Aviv last Friday due to "personal reasons," saying he feared for the safety of relatives in Iran if he played in Israel.
It is not yet known if Dejagah's suspension is permanent or whether he will be allowed to make a return to the German national team in the future.
Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon met with the DFB president Theo Zwanziger on Thursday morning and was told of the decision to suspend Dejagah. "I wasn't told exactly how long he will be suspended for, only that he is suspended indefinitely. I accept any decision made by the DFB," Luzon told The Jerusalem Post. "The Germans came to Israel with a large delegation because they wanted to show the importance of this visit. The DFB president invited me to Germany and we agreed to play a friendly match between the national teams."
Zwanziger refused to comment on the matter on Thursday, but had said earlier in the week: "Any form of discrimination or anti-Semitism has no place in German football. I will first get a picture of the player's reasoning. We have to give Dejagah a chance to consider his decision again. Does he really identify with what is happening in Iran? We know what we expect from German national players."
Zwanziger, Germany Under-21 coach Dieter Eilts and DFB sports director Matthias Sammer visited Yad Vashem on Wednesday and laid a wreath to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
Germany coach Joachim Low has also spoken of his disappointment with Dejagah's decision not to play in Israel. "I know the political problems. Basically I hoped and expected that for sporting reasons, a German Under-21 player would have made a different decision," Low said.
Israel's U21 coach Guy Levy was reluctant to answer any questions regarding Dejagah on Thursday. "I don't think I need to comment on such matters," he said.
The U21 team is desperate to claim a victory on Friday after suffering a shock 1-0 loss to Moldova in its last qualifier. Israel defeated Luxemburg 3-0 in its first match of the campaign in September and will complete the first round of matches on Wednesday when it faces Northern Ireland.
Only the top team in the group is guaranteed to advance to a qualification playoff, with the four best runners-up from the 10 qualifying groups also progressing to the next stage. The seven playoff winners will join Sweden, which qualify automatically as hosts, at the eight-team final tournament.
The German team, which is almost entirely made-up of Bundesliga players, defeated Northern Ireland 3-0 in its only qualifier to date.
"We must understand that we can defeat any team in the same way that we can lose to any team. We must believe we can win." Levy said. "We have gifted players and we need to help them display their ability on Friday."
One of the talented players Levy is talking about is Bnei Sakhnin midfielder Maor Buzaglo. "There's something special about this team and we're getting better all the time," the 19-year-old said. "This match is crucial and we can't afford to drop any more points."
On TV: Israel vs Germany (live at 3:00 p.m. on Sport 5)