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Everything to hide

Teams prefer training behind closed doors for Euro to keep away distractions, spies

sports Updated: Jun 05, 2008 09:14 IST
DPA

World Cup champions Italy will hold an open training session hours after their Monday arrival for Euro 2008 and then close the door on the public and the media.

Germany, by contrast, appear not at all ready to allow the fans to have a glance at Michael Ballack, Miroslav Klose and the others as they have no public training planned. The same applies to Poland.

Gone are the days when fans and reporters were able to watch the stars train at home or at big events. One look at the official Euro 2008 public training list released by UEFA, shows that.

Romania allow the largest number of fans to view their players in training, with each sessions set to attract a full stadium capacity of 21,000. The Czechs and Croatians, by contrast, will have only 500 fans watching their sessions.

Spain have planned a daily open session but also reserve the right to practice behind closed doors on short notice.

“Most training sessions will be held behind closed doors, but 14 of the 16 teams are following UEFA’s recommendation by opening at least one training session to the public,” ruling body UEFA said in a statement.

But teams are not obliged to train in front of the public, even though the closed sessions and small stadiums leave many fans deprived of a chance to see their idols.

But with more money involved in the world’s most popular sport, and margins between defeat and triumph becoming thinner, coaches and staff are taking no chances and preparing their club teams and national sides behind closed doors.

That will enable them to go into tactical details without being spied upon, be it attacking moves or free-kicks.

“We can’t simply open the door,” said Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff when they barred the fans last week in Majorca. “We can then concentrate on our work with the players.”

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel announced training without fans and media after a defeat against Hungary in a tune-up match last weekend.

After all, Italy’s session was interrupted last weekend when their first Euro-training at home saw two women run onto the pitch and strip down to their bikinis.