Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld criticized fans for jeering Alex Frei, and will try to persuade his captain and record goalscorer not to retire from international football.
Hitzfeld said it was “unacceptable” for fans in Basel to aim abuse at Frei during the team’s 4-1 victory in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales on Tuesday.
“You don’t have the right to whistle like that at a player who has scored 40 goals for the national team and gives everything for his country,” Hitzfeld said.
“I don’t understand such a reaction from the public. Alex was hit hard, I’ve been shocked and his teammates also. Today it’s Alex, but tomorrow it could be another player’s turn. No, I can’t accept it.”
The 31-year-old Frei, who last scored for Switzerland in Sept. 2009, was making his 81st international appearance but made a gesture after being replaced late in the game which appeared to suggest he’d had enough.
Frei also was jeered by home fans at St. Gallen during a friendly against Australia last month when he missed a penalty in a 0-0 draw.
Hitzfeld said the Swiss football association must solve the problem before a November 17 friendly being played at Geneva against Ukraine.
“My goal is of course to convince (Frei) to continue,” the coach added. “I want to leave him time to digest this before making the point to him.”