San Marino offer stinging response to Mueller's criticism

BERLIN: San Marino officials strongly criticised Thomas Mueller in an open letter on Monday after the German attacking midfielder made disparaging comments about the tiny European nation following Friday's World Cup qualifier.

Following the World Cup holders' 8-0 rout, Mueller had questioned the point of playing the minnows and declared the game had "nothing to do with professional football" due to the gap between the two teams, with the majority of the San Marino players being amateurs.

He also said there was increased risk of injury due the state of the rain-drenched pitch in Serravalle.

In response to Mueller's condemnation, the country's Olympic Committee spokesman, Alan Gasperoni, offered 10 reasons for the game to be played.

"It served to show that even against lowly teams like ours you cannot score a goal and don't say you were not frustrated when (keeper Aldo) Simoncini denied you," Gasperoni said in the letter posted on Facebook.

Mueller has yet to score for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this season in an unusually long goal drought after netting 20 times last season. He failed to find the net despite several attempts against San Marino.

While Mueller claimed Friday's outing "will not appear on my highlights list", Gasperoni retorted: "It also served to show that football belongs to everyone who loves it and we are part of that, whether you like it or not."

Gasperoni went on to say the game gave a chance for San Marino kids to watch the world champions in action and for both federations to use revenues from the game for football infrastructure.

"It also served for a country as large as an area of your Munich stadium to make the papers for a good reason, because a football game is always a good reason.

"And it also served to make it clear to me that even under the most beautiful football shirts you will always be the ones who wear white socks with their sandals."

San Marino, located on the Italian Peninsula, are ranked 201st in the FIFA rankings, while Germany are second.