Blogger lip-reads and tweets what coaches are saying (or cursing) from the sidelines
Germany coach Joachim Loew needs to watch his language at the World Cup with a deaf German lip-reader ready to decipher his every curse from the dug-out.
Julia Probst, a 32-year-old deaf blogger and activist for the handicapped, rose to fame during the 2012 European Championship by lip-reading the sideline directives and occasional expletives of coaches and players.
The normally mild-mannered Loew has been Probst’s favourite target to decipher and his exasperated dug-out directives often find their way to her Twitter account.
“This is so shit!” Loew shouted during the Germans’ 1-0 group stage win over the United States.
“What is that?! I don’t understand why it’s not better,” he fumed during Germany’s 2-1 win over Algeria in the last 16 on Monday.
Football fans have flocked to her Twitter feed @EinAugenschmaus (‘A feast for the eyes’) with 27,500 followers reading what their heroes say on the pitch during Germany’s matches.
Loew indirectly acknowledged Probst’s lip-reading during Euro 2012 when he said he “may have to hold back more” after the German media highlighted her skills.
But the 54-year-old does not always make it easy for her by occasionally holding his hand over his mouth when he shouts an instruction – and he’s not the only one.
“At this World Cup, there is increasingly a trend that players and coaches hold a hand over their mouths,” she said.
“After the final whistle of the Algeria match, for example, (Germany goalkeeper) Manuel Neuer did it when he talked to a team-mate, that is the best advertisement for lip-reading.”
Probst says Germany defender Jerome Boateng is the hardest to lip-read as he tends to mumble, but she can lip-read any player speaking either German or English.
She also said the German squad keep their cool even during tense games.
“The players are on very friendly terms, they praise and encourage each other, they are well-mannered gentlemen,” said Probst.
“There is no real chatterbox in the team, but there are emotional leaders like Philipp Lahm.
“Bastian Schweinsteiger told the team ‘Nothing comes from nothing!’ before they won the third-place play-off at the 2010 World Cup.”
A devout football-fan, her decipherings are a hobby and she admits her unique skills are unlikely to provide future employment in professional football.
“No, that would only make sense if the sport was very tactical,” she said.
“In American football, the top teams have lip readers in order to spy on each other.
“In games you can really see coaches trying to hide what they want to say form lip-readers.”
Probst said she would only help the German FA (DFB) if her services were needed in certain situations, but she would like to help others with a disability.
“Generally, I wouldn’t do it, but it would be different if there was a racist incident which needed to be deciphered,” she said.
“There was an interesting case in 2012 with John Terry and Anton Ferdinand, when a lip-reader was used to pick out racist remarks.
“I would like to be invited once by the DFB to work with those in charge about how to break down barriers for people with disabilities.”