Swiss defender recalled after Olympic Twitter row
BERN, Switzerland (AP)
Expelled from the London Olympics for writing an offensive Twitter message, defender Michel Morganella was given a second chance by Switzerland on Thursday.
The 23-year-old center half was selected in coach Ottmar Hitzfeld's squad of 22 to play Greece in a friendly in Athens next Wednesday.
''I was very surprised and happy,'' Morganella said, adding he hoped to justify his recall by ''showing I have learned from my errors committed at the Olympic Games.''
Last July, the Swiss Olympic team said Morganella ''insulted and violated the dignity'' of South Korean people in a comment he made after losing a match between the two sides.
''Now it's up to me to prove to Ottmar Hitzfeld that he was right to pick me,'' he said in an interview published by the Swiss Football Association on its website.
Hitzfeld said that Morganella ''deserves'' his reprieve.
''He has been punished by being excluded from all Swiss Football Association activities,'' the veteran coach said. ''But now, the moment has come to offer him another chance.''
Morganella, who plays for Italian club Palermo, made his senior debut for Switzerland last May.
He was in the starting lineup at the Olympics, and received a yellow card when the Swiss lost its second match 2-1 against South Korea in Coventry.
Morganella tweeted in French slang that insulted South Korean people and suggested they ''can go burn.''
He quickly apologized, deleted the account and was sent home by Swiss team leaders who also offered their apologies to South Korean Olympic officials.
Morganella said he also sought to make amends on returning to Palermo.
''I asked for forgiveness from the coach, the management and the team, and assured them that such mistakes wouldn't be repeated,'' he said, acknowledging stress he placed on his family. ''But they also knew that such behavior wasn't really me and kept faith in me.''
Morganella, whose selection helped keep Fulham defender Philippe Senderos out of the squad, returns to a national team which leads its World Cup qualifying group after playing four of its 10 matches.
Switzerland plays Greece to prepare for a March 23 qualifier in Cyprus.
Meanwhile, Hitzfeld gave a first call-up to 20-year-old Novara forward Haris Seferovic, the latest member of Switzerland's Under-17 World Cup-winning team of 2009 to graduate to the senior side.