Gelsenkirchen's Aufschalke stadium witnessed an unforgettable gala evening last Tuesday. The lucky 51,904 fans packed into the arena were treated to an entertaining fixture between the German national side and a star-studded selection of the Bundesliga's best foreign players, 22 of them in all from 14 countries. Proceeds of the charity game went to the victims of the South Asian tsunami.
"We had to do something," commented Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "After all, we were in Asia ourselves shortly before this appalling tragedy". Both he and Dutchman Huub Stevens, coach of the Bundesliga side, called on the players to concentrate on enjoying, rather than winning the game. The match was broadcast live not only in the countries directly affected by the tsunami - Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India - but in Singapore and Hong Kong as well.
Almost half an hour was to elapse before the crowd was rewarded with a goal. Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Schneider gave Germany the lead after 26 minutes with a soaring shot from 18 metres. Roy Makaay equalised two minutes later, superbly rounding off a move that was straight from the training manual. Hertha Berlin's Marcelinho set the Bayern Munich striker up with an inch-perfect pass, and Makaay made no mistake, blasting the ball on the volley past club team-mate Oliver Kahn for the best goal of the game. Once again, the riposte was not long in coming. This time it was the turn of Schalke's Gerald Asamoah to convert a low cross to restore the Mannschaft's lead (30').
The charitable nature of the game was obvious after the break as the players took their foot off the pedal, understandably keen to avoid injury. Franz Beckenbauer summarised this approach in an interview at the break when he pointed out that "…this game is not the place for seriousness."
Nuremberg's Slovakian forward, Marek Mintal, the Bundesliga's leading goal scorer with 13 goals to his credit, equalized for the all-star side in the 50th minute. Both sides parted on good terms, dividing the spoils evenly at two goals apiece. The game had certainly lived up to its billing as a means to "play against each other, but win together."
Altogether, 42 players were given a run out and more than 4 million euros raised. This sum includes not just gate receipts but also contributions from players and partners of the DFB, the German Football Association. Before the game, the German national side had donated 200,000 euros to get the fundraising going.
Some 1.5 million euros are intended as emergency relief towards rebuilding a hospital in Banda Aceh in Indonesia, the area hardest hit by the disaster. The "Egidius Brau" Foundation in coordination with the DFB and the DFL (German Football League) will be responsible for allocating remaining funds to diverse projects in the affected area.
The post-match 'feelgood factor' was universal. Roy Makaay spoke for many when he reminded the press that "we were playing for a good cause and everyone enjoyed it, the fans in the stadium as much as anyone. We came here to put on a good show". Coach Klinsmann emphasised the entertainment value: "It wasn't about drawing any great conclusions. It was about a good cause and that goal was certainly achieved."
Germany captain Michael Ballack spoke in favour of making such a game for charity an annual event, and those sentiments echoed by Uli Hoeness, manager of Bayern Munich: "I would say that if a TV channel was prepared to broadcast the game, such a proposal would enjoy majority support in the league".
Germany - Bundesliga Allstars 2:2 (2:1)
1:0 Schneider (26.)
1:1 Makaay (28.)
2:1 Asamoah (29.)
2:2 Mintal (50.)
Germany: Kahn (Bayern Munich - 46' Lehmann/FC Arsenal) - Hinkel (VfB Stuttgart - 46' Owomoyela/Arminia Bielefeld), Mertesacker (Hannover 96 - 46' Friedrich/Hertha Berlin), Wörns (Borussia Dortmund - 46' Fahrenhorst/Werder Bremen), Pander (Schalke 04) - Frings (Bayern Munich - 46' Ernst/Werder Bremen) - Schneider (Bayer Leverkusen - 46' Borowski/Werder Bremen), Engelhardt (1. FC Kaiserslautern) - Ballack (Bayern Munich - 46' Schweinsteiger/Bayern Munich) - Asamoah (Schalke 04 - 46' Klose/Werder Bremen), Kuranyi (VfB Stuttgart - 46' Podolski/1. FC Köln)
Bundesliga Allstars: Warmuz (Borussia Dortmund/France - 46' Juric/Hannover 96/Croatia) - Davala (Werder Bremen/Turkey - 46' Stalteri/Werder Bremen/Canada), Ismael (Werder Bremen/France - 46' Lucio/Bayern Munich/Brazil), Van Buyten (Hamburger SV/Belgium - 46' Bordon/Schalke 04/Brazil), Simunic (Hertha Berlin/Croatia - 46' Kobiaschwili/Schalke 04/Georgia) - Meira (VfB Stuttgart/Portugal - 46' Kovac/Hertha BSC/Croatia), Babic (Bayer Leverkusen/Croatia - 46' Salihamidzic/Bayern Munich/Bosnia-Herzegovina) - Hleb (VfB Stuttgart/Belarussia - 46' Lincoln/Schalke 04/Brazil), Marcelinho (Hertha Berlin/Brazil - 46' Zé Roberto/Bayern Munich/Brazil), Krzynowek (Bayer Leverkusen/Poland - 46' Mintal/1. FC Nürnberg/Slovakia) - Makaay (Bayern Munich/Netherlands - 46' Ailton/Schalke 04/Brazil)