BERLIN - Germany's under-fire captain Michael Ballack must establish his authority through hard work, the German FA said on Wednesday.
Ballack had a public row with striker Lukas Podolski during this month's 2-0 World Cup qualifying win in Wales.
He was pushed away by the forward after telling him to run more, with Podolski's hand hitting the captain's face and leaving Ballack visibly irritated by the incident.
German media labelled the affair "the slap" and, although Podolski was reprimanded and has since apologised, German soccer federation chief Theo Zwanziger said it was up to Ballack to lead by example on the pitch.
"A captain must not only talk. Michael Ballack must be present as a player and a runner," Zwanziger told Sport Bild magazine.
"Just like he did against Wales. If he continues playing on that level then he will not be doubted and will not lose any of his authority," Zwanziger said.
Ballack scored Germany's first goal in the victory over Wales on April 1 with a beautiful long-range effort to help keep his team four points clear at the top of Group Four.
But the win was overshadowed by the dispute on the pitch that triggered memories of last year when a public spat between Ballack and Germany coach Joachim Loew briefly led to the captain being dropped.
Germany went on to lose two consecutive home games against England and Norway -- both friendlies -- before beating Liechtenstein and Wales in their recent World Cup qualifiers with Ballack scoring the first goal in both matches.comments