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Swiss captain shown red card


Swiss national football trainer Köbi Kuhn has dropped captain Johann Vogel from the team, citing a lack of chemistry and the need for team unity.

Kuhn’s decision comes 15 months before Euro 2008, which is being co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria.

Kuhn phoned Vogel, a midfielder for Spanish side Real Betis, on Wednesday but the news was only made known on Thursday – Vogel’s 30th birthday.

Vogel, expecting birthday greetings from Kuhn, was instead told that he was being omitted from the 20-man squad named to play two friendlies against Jamaica and Colombia in the United States later this month.

Kuhn, voted Swiss of the Year 2006, said the decision was taken “because the chemistry was no longer right, both on and off the pitch”.

Kuhn said Vogel, who is said to have reacted “very emotionally”, would probably not play again for the national team.

“I had to make a break with the past as the unity [of the team] was no longer there. And we can only succeed with a united team. In the past games we were very weak because of that,” Kuhn said.

Switzerland, who as co-host automatically qualify for Euro 2008, have lost their last three matches – against Germany (1-3), Brazil (1-2) and Austria (1-2).

Considering future

Vogel, who has captained the national team since 2004, told his website he would address the issue at a later date and that he intended to fight for reselection, possibly after Kuhn’s retirement in 2008.

The website said Vogel was considering his future. “In any case he does not accept that this is a definitive retirement [from international football],” it said.

“Following the 2008 European Championship he will only be 31 and young enough to continue playing at the highest European level.”

Vogel was reported by Swiss media to have had a difference of opinion with the team’s top scorer Alex Frei following Switzerland’s exit from the World Cup last year after a penalty shoot-out with Ukraine.

There were also rival camps within the team and disputes between the French and German speaking players, the reports claimed.

Vogel, who chose not to take a penalty, was blamed by Swiss fans for the overly defensive attitude of the team. Switzerland were the only team to keep a clean sheet, but also the only team not to score in a penalty shoot-out.

swissinfo with agencies

Date of birth: March 8, 1977, Geneva
National team debut against Greece (1-1) on March 8, 1995
94 national caps, two goals
Took part in the 2006 World Cup and European Championship in 1996 and 2004
7 Under-21 caps
Played for Grasshoppers Zurich (1992-1995), PSV Eindhoven (1999-2005), Milan (2005-2006), Real Betis (2006 to date)
Player of the Year (Netherlands) 2001
Seven national titles (three with Grasshoppers, four with PSV)
Two times national cup winner (one each Grasshoppers, PSV)

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR