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German football has much bigger problems

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German football has much bigger problems

The German football league has bowed to pressure from fans. Their stuffy anti-capitalism is a threat to the competitiveness of the Bundesliga.

In Dortmund, fans are protesting against the German Football League’s investor deal.


There has been a lot of excitement in German football stadiums in the last few days. Fans caused game interruptions, delayed kick-off times, and all sorts of rows. They were protesting against a possible opening of the German Football League (DFL) to an investor.

Now this question has been resolved. The DFL drew a line in the sand, and the chairman of the supervisory board, Hans-Joachim Watzke, explained the reasons: There was discontent among the fans and fewer and fewer of the 36 professional clubs were behind the deal.

The termination of the proceedings by the DFL is not a trivial step. It damages the reputation of the institution abroad. After all, the potential investor Blackstone had already withdrawn. In view of the damage that has already been caused, the decision is as understandable as it is sensible.

Watzke speaks, somewhat pompously, of a democratic process. And yet the decision raises questions. They not only affect the football league, but also the expectations of the supporters. Because the deal that the DFL was seeking was certainly not a sell-out. The league wanted to raise a billion and in return the investor would share in marketing revenue. In return, the partner should ensure that the income from foreign marketing increases significantly.

So far, so unspectacular. However, this went too far for the idealistic football fans. Above all, they complained about the fact that the decision had been reached in a nebulous manner. The vote was secret; club representatives are said to have decided differently than what the clubs had told them to do. This was primarily about Hanover club boss Martin Kind, who has been pushing for the Bundesliga to open up for years. Kind, who is not only perceived by his supporters as a notorious troublemaker, kept his vote to himself.

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Fans felt betrayed – as did one or two club representatives. The non-transparent procedure makes the supporters’ frustration clear; In the end he no longer knew the measure.

The only thing is: the romantic idea of ​​football that is harbored by German fans no longer has a flower pot to win internationally. Anyone who cultivates such a stuffy anti-capitalism will be left behind in the long run. And one question touches on the essence of the league: Why is the Bundesliga not as popular abroad as its exponents would like?

The answer is relatively simple. A league in which a club like Bayern Munich has had a de facto monopoly on the championship for more than a decade has more modest attractive potential than the English Premier League, where close title fights take place every year. It is also lower than that of the Spanish Primera Division, which offers a unique event with the duel between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

The Bundesliga’s modest attractiveness is due to its own weakness, which in turn is reflected in Bavaria’s superiority. The people of Munich have done a lot to create these conditions. For years they weakened their competitors by sending the best staff to Munich. The so-called German Classico between Dortmund and Bayern has not been a real test for the Munich team for years, regardless of the current crisis. And in the course of this dominance, Bavaria’s international competitiveness has eroded, which in turn reduces the price of foreign marketing.

This is not a positive finding for German football. There is more to discuss than just the question of whether an investor deal would have given the clubs substantial advantages.

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