Signs against a cruel system: Max Eberl’s bitter tears of strength

Sign against cruel system
Max Eberl’s bitter tears of strength

A comment by David Needy

Max Eberl pulls the emergency brake instead of continuing to suffer in silence. He is sending an important signal of openness, because the football business can ruin people in the long run. The German meritocracy must also change this unhealthy system.

He sat there slumped. Max Eberl, the speaker. Borussia Mönchengladbach’s one-man show. The sports director, who was always fighting, liked to harass the opponents and otherwise didn’t shy away from a word, didn’t know what to do – and cried. They were bitter tears because the pressure of the football business had consumed him. Had driven him so far into the abyss that even alpha male Eberl could not help but admit that it had to be over. And that’s why they were tears of strength that Eberl certainly – or better: hopefully – didn’t shed in vain. They must act as a sign against a merciless system.

“I just want to get out, I just don’t want anything to do with this football right now. I want to have fun. I want to be Max Eberl.” This Max Eberl, so he was no more. Longer. Inwardly, he begged for months or years, struggling with himself, to finally take the step to resign. A step that is certainly not a step backwards. Rather, it is a step of strength. Allowing, recognizing and showing the so-called “weakness” in oneself – it doesn’t get much more powerful and healing. Eberl has now done that. He can be proud of himself, despite all the grief for those he now has to leave behind. Health is above everything.

Not feeling fun anymore in an occupation like football – that’s not good even for those who practice the sport professionally and are part of the business. But sometimes – even worse: makes – this business sick. “I’m broken, exhausted and that’s why I can’t work anymore,” Eberl complained formally. As if he wanted to awaken the many other internally suffering. Because there are enough examples in Germany alone that footballers can break under the enormous pressure.

Behind all the fame and recognition, behind a lot of money, there is no room for “weakness”, for feelings against appearances. If you want to survive emotionally in football, you “must” be able to hide all the public harshness that hits you in those moments when things aren’t going well.

Against silent suffering

Max Eberl doesn’t want any of that anymore. That’s a good thing and an important signal to the football business of the Bundesliga and the world. Higher, faster, further – and above all: more and more games and tournaments, ever larger sums, ever better results. In the long run, business can only ruin people. And both business and people threaten to collapse sooner or later. Eberl demanded that those people should be respected in reporting and on social media. But he also meant the players in football, who are often just as quick to judge and pick at each other.

Advice and emergency help for those at risk of suicide and depression

Eberl’s tears at the press conference are as important as they are rare. Because only occasionally does this human side of the football players flash out. Their world is ruled by morbid power fantasies, unhealthy pressure to perform, egotism, money and selfishness. Footballers are a commodity. Sports directors, Eberl recognized that in good time, often too. Instead of continuing to suffer in silence, he pulled the emergency brake.

Without making any amateurish external diagnosis with the outgoing sports director: The topics of depression and mental stress and illnesses are still a reluctant open door in German society – even more so in the football business, of course. If it’s open a crack, it’s locked again a week later. Eberl shows everyone else how to step over the threshold, how to break taboos and how good self-reflection, which is not very popular in football, is good. To finally find yourself, to have fun in life again.

Max Eberl is now going the honest and healthy way. The way of strength. Wherever it leads. One can only wish that he finds many imitators. So that the brutal football system breaks down as quickly as possible and rebuilds itself in a way that no longer sucks the life force out of people. And then the German meritocracy is welcome to take this as an example.

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