Germany coach Joachim Loew and his players have rejected criticism of a public party that drew an estimated 100,000 fans in Berlin to celebrate the team's second-place finish at Euro 2008.
The event was not a victory party, but a way of thanking fans, said Loew after German soccer federation technical director Matthias Sammer said holding such a big party after losing in the final sent the wrong signal to younger players.
"It was right to thank the fans, but it gives me bellyache when we allow ourselves to be feted for a sporting defeat," Sammer said. "It's difficult for me to explain that to the under-19s and then get the very last ounce of sporting ambition out of them before a final."
Defender Philipp Lahm said, "We don't go along to be feted ourselves. It is just a big thank-you from the players to the fans. It's a nice way of rounding off the European Championship or the World Cup whether we win or lose."