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German soccer boss says players' "gaucho" dance not disrespectful

BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of Germany's national soccer association said on Wednesday that German players celebrating their World Cup triumph did not intend to be disrespectful when they performed a dance that poked fun at their defeated opponent Argentina.

During victory celebrations in front of fans in Berlin on Tuesday a group of players stooped low and chanted "This is how Gauchos walk, Gauchos they walk like this", before jumping up to shout: "This is how Germans walk, Germans they walk like this!"

There was little outcry in Argentina but sports newspaper Ole said: "The Gaucho dance performed by the Germans ... caused unease in our country."

Some German media criticized the dance too. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper said it was a "nasty satire" with which the players damaged Germany's image as a tolerant country, Tagesspiegel newspaper said it was "tasteless" and Tageszeitung said it was "disrespectful".

Wolfgang Niersbach, president of the DFB football association, said the dance was "in no way meant disrespectfully", adding that it was a "spontaneous" expression of the players' joy.

"They are all absolutely decent and fair sportsmen who don't make fun of anyone but just wanted to celebrate wildly with the fans," he said in a statement on the DFB's website.

"We're sorry if this came across the wrong way or was misunderstood by some people."

He said he would write a letter to Argentine FA (AFA) president Julio Grondona and make clear to him that the routine was not meant disrespectfully.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Buenos Aires; Editing by Alison Williams)

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