The sluggish handling of the national team’s world cup debacle has reopened the old rifts between amateur and professional soccer in the DFB.
For weeks, the representatives of the bundesliga clubs and their umbrella organization, the german football league (DFL), had no comment on the disgraceful failure of the german national team in the final round in russia and the disastrous handling of the erdogan affair surrounding the resignation of mesut ozil. But for a few days now – led by the attack department of the FC bayern – verbal fire has been coming out of all the pipes. The power struggle is in full swing.
It has never been a love affair between the german fubball association with its more than 25,000 amateur clubs and the german fubball league since the umbrella organization of the 36 professional clubs was founded at the end of 2000. The interests are too different, the ways of working too different. The dispute was not to be ignored. Like the last time at the end of 2015, when the amateurs, after the resignation of DFB president wolfgang niersbach in the wake of the world cup summer marquee affair, hoisted their candidate reinhard grindel into the chief’s chair without consulting the professional representatives.
Under grindel’s leadership, the DFB has not cut a good figure this summer and has made itself vulnerable at all levels. But blaming the honorary decision-makers in frankfurt’s otto fleck alley solely for the crisis, as bayern CEO karl-heinz rummenigge recently did, doesn’t do the matter justice. After all, the 17-member DFB board also includes five representatives of the professional sector.
The DFL grandees – managing director christian seifert and league president reinhard rauball – are now vehemently calling for more professional structures in the association. That’s something the non-profit DFB, with its huge amateur camp, doesn’t like to hear. But you can stay away from the topic in the long run?
The patience of the professional representatives, who have not only been making their demands since the national team’s defeat in russia, seems to have run out. "I believe that the time is overdue to discuss a structure within the dfb that finally makes a clear distinction between a professional, full-time paid management and a supervisory body consisting of amateur and professional soccer representatives," seifert said the previous week.
The top manager, under whose leadership german professional soccer has advanced into completely new financial dimensions, has long been concerned about the sometimes amateurish work processes in the DFB. After all, the association is responsible not only for the national team, but also for young talent – and that’s where the future competitiveness of german soccer will be decided, which in turn will have an impact on the clubs’ income.
Rauball, who is also president of borussia dortmund, therefore called in the "bild am sonntag" for the immediate initiation of efficient steps. "We need measures that take effect immediately, and we also need long-term changes in areas such as coach training, junior performance centers, personal development, and education in self-reliance," he said. Germany has long since lost touch with the international elite at the U15, U17 and U19 levels.
It remains to be seen whether the DFB will agree to far-reaching structural changes. National coach joachim low won’t present his comprehensive world cup analysis until the end of august. Sports policy operations at the association’s headquarters seem to be at a standstill for the time being. No one dares to come out of hiding – especially since the delicate awarding of the EURO 2024 is coming up in september. An electoral defeat against competitor turkey would further damage the DFB’s tarnished image and weaken president grindel even more.
However, the professional representatives do not want to keep the fube still for long. At a planned meeting with the DFB boss, national coach low and national team manager oliver bierhoff, they are to talk straight this month. German fubball could be in for a heiber autumn.