Swiss defender recalled after Olympic Twitter row

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.