Still angry at Timo Werner? This man missed his penalty on purpose | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 08.12.2016
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Still angry at Timo Werner? This man missed his penalty on purpose

On the same weekend that Timo Werner put in his bid for an Oscar - for the gritty drama "Falling Down" - a lower-league player-coach intentionally missed a penalty on moral grounds, knowing his teammate had dived.

Fußball Bundesliga FC Schalke 04 - RB Leipzig (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Woitas)

Schalke's outspoken keeper Fährmann said the decision was 'sickening'

Germania Schöneiche's reserve team player-coach Paul Mitscherlich, 33, has a profile page on German football data website, but that's about as far as his professional footprint goes. Besides a mention of a stint, long ago, with Union Berlin as a youngster.

Nevertheless, the midfielder was interviewed this week by daily paper "Tagesspiegel", after he unwittingly provided a mirror image to Timo Werner's dive and penalty for RB Leipzig against Schalke in the Bundesliga.

Trailing Kolkwitz 1-0 on the road after 80 minutes, in a season where Germania Schöneiche could end up battling relegation, Mitscherlich stepped up to the penalty spot and simply passed the ball back to the opposing keeper.

Fußball Bundesliga FC Schalke 04 - RB Leipzig (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Woitas)

Defender Naldo's hands said it all as Werner went to ground

"I just couldn't shoot on goal, it didn't feel right," Mitscherlich told Tagesspiegel. "The referee had already been on our side for the whole match, forever giving the iffy calls in our favor. With the penalty, he was just way off the mark. It was a gift, anybody on the pitch could have seen it."

Crisis of conscience

Mitscherlich said that any lingering doubts were dispelled when he made eye contact with his teammate, who gave a nod and a grin: "By then, at the latest, I knew it was never a foul."

Admittedly, Mitscherlich's position as player-coach put him in a unique position to take such a decision, and he acknowledged mixed reactions among his teammates.

"Some of them patted me on the shoulder in the game, saying it was the right thing to do. Others said nothing, but I could tell from their faces that they weren't quite so approving. I can understand the lads there. We've had so many close defeats this season, so much bad luck, and then I go and deliberately throw away a chance to turn those tables," Mitscherlich recalled.

Germania went on to lose the game, Mitscherlich himself hit the bar in stoppage time with a free kick.

The 33-year-old said that his new role as player-coach - he quit playing for Germania's first team last season - played a part in the decision, saying that contributing to the deception of the dive would not set much of an example to his team. However, he was keen to stress that he understood the vast difference between his situation and that of Timo Werner, which played out on Mitscherlich's TV screen soon after the full time whistle in Kolkwitz.

"What I found worst of all was that he took the penalty himself and then played the hero and basked in the fans' celebrations. Timo Werner's still young, the Bundesliga's a big-money business, and of course it's different to intentionally miss a penalty in front of 50 people in the park, than in front of 60,000 in the stadium. But he could have sent a signal that might have reverberated beyond Germany. He may have scored a goal, but he missed one heck of a chance," Mitscherlich said.

Asked about Werner's next-day confession that it was not a penalty, Mitscherlich said that this was too little, too late. "Admitting it was a dive the next day is not difficult. What's difficult is admitting that it was a dive on the pitch."

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