Hockey: Tweet that angered Greeks was fake - Germany
LONDON (Reuters) - An alleged Twitter post by a German hockey player poking fun at Greek athletes which angered many in Greece was a "cowardly fake", Germany's national Olympic committee said on Friday.
The tweet attributed to German Olympic flagbearer Natascha Keller read: "The Olympic village is filled with barefoot Greek athletes. As soon as we see them we are afraid that they will ask us for loans".
It surfaced on Greek blogs earlier on Friday and provoked outrage from Greeks who left angry messages on the player's Facebook page.
"Whoever is behind this fake should be ashamed. It's a cowardly act, which deserves no further comment," German Olympic mission chief Michael Vesper said in a statement.
Neither Keller, 35, who won gold in Athens in 2004 and will play in her fifth Olympic Games in London, nor her coach Michael Behrmann were available for comment.
The striker appeared to have shut down her public Facebook and Twitter accounts after reports of the tweet surfaced. The offending message could not be found on her Twitter account before it was shut.
Relations between the two countries have suffered due to Greece's deepening debt crisis, with Germany accusing Greece of being unable to keep promises while Greeks blame Germany for insisting on austerity cuts that have boosted unemployment and worsened a recession.
Greek politician Adonis Georgiadis initially tweeted that comments by two foreign athletes were creating a "major issue", but later posted: "Let's not go crazy over this for no reason; it appears the comments by these two athletes against us were made up. Let's see."
Keller, one of only a handful of international players whose name has a ring beyond hockey, was named Germany's flagbearer on Wednesday in what was seen as a move to honor her humble character and her family's Olympic history.
Her grandfather Erwin won hockey silver at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Her father Carsten was part of Germany's gold-medal winning team at the 1972 Munich Games, and brothers Andreas and Florian took gold in 1992 and 2008 respectively.
The striker played her first international aged 17 and now, almost 18 years and more than 400 caps later, wants to finish her international career with another Olympic medal.
When he announced Keller as the country's flagbearer, Vesper said she was: "never arrogant, humble and at the same time performance-oriented, down to earth and successful. That's what makes her so likeable." (Reporting by Annika Breidthardt and Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Clare Fallon)
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