Football - Soccer
Germany: A Football Nation
Football or soccer is by far the most important and the most popular sport in Germany. No other sport has the power to fascinate that many people and – of course there are always some rivalries between the local teams – bring them together to celebrate and to suffer in harmony. A great example to illustrate this “combining power”, were the numerous “public-viewing” parties during the world cup in 2006, where Germans, together with people from all over the world, got together to watch the games in a friendly and peaceful atmosphere.
From our “Kaiser” (Emperor) Franz Beckenbauer, one of the greatest players of all time, to Gerd Müller - who holds the incredible record of scoring more goals (68) for the German National Team, than having made an appearance (62) for them – to Birgit Prinz, who was elected best female player of the world for three times (2003-2005), Germany has a long tradition of world-class football players.
Enlarge image Last shot: Olic (© dpa/pa)
The National Teams
Apart from the first world cup in 1930 and the one right after the end of World War II, in 1950, where Germany was not allowed to participate, Germany qualified for every single major international tournament. Up to date no team has ever reached more world cup finals than the German team (7). The biggest successes, of course, were the three times when the team managed to win the world cup and brought the trophy back home in 1954, 1974 and 1990. Still today one of the most memorable moments of German football history was the so called “Wunder von Bern” (wonder of Bern) in 1954. At that time Germany was still suffering from the aftermaths of World War II. However, the German National Team lead by trainer-legend Sepp Herberger managed to win the world cup final in Bern, Switzerland, against the runaway favorite Hungary. Every child, even today, knows the all time favorite radio commentary from the closing seconds of the match. It was not so much the sportive performance that made that triumph so extraordinary but rather the impact it had on the self-confidence of a whole nation.
Also noteworthy are the other two occasions, when Germany won the world tournament. In 1974 the National Team, under the lead of its coach Helmut Schön and its captain Franz Beckenbauer, won the final, in Munich, against the Netherlands and rewarded itself with the title at home.
Some 16 years later, in Italy, Beckenbauer was crowned world champion again, but this time not as a player, but as the head coach of the National Team. He was the first person ever, who won the world cup not only as a player but also as a coach.
However, not only the boys can look back on a tremendously successful football history. The Female National Team is in no way inferior to them. They themselves are a two time World Champion and an astonishing seven time European Champion.
On the 28th of July 1962, football history was made in the Gold Room at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, as the Bundesliga was called into existence. At the general assembly of the German Football Association (DFB), delegates from the regional football associations decided by 103 votes to 26 to inaugurate a national league, to commence in the 1963-64 season.
In the years to follow German teams won several international cups like the Champions League and the UEFA-Cup. By no doubt the most successful team on a national as well as on an international level proofed to be Bayern Munich. They are, with 21 titles, the German “Rekordmeister” (record champion) plus, up until today, they won the Champions League four times.
The dinosaur of the league is the Hamburger SV, being the only team, which is also a founding member of the Bundesliga and never had to go to the second division.
The league consists of 18 teams. The champion and the runner-up directly qualify for the Champions League (European Cup tournament, which is considered to be the toughest tournament in club football). In addition, the 3rd placed team also gets the chance to qualify.
Since the season of 2008/2009 only the last two teams are sent immediately to the second division, it used to be the last three teams. Now, the third-worst team engages in a two legged play-off game with the third-best team of the second division.
In 1990 a one-track “Frauen-Bundesliga” (Women National League) was introduced for the first time. Today it consists of 12 teams, which compete for the title. The most successful women’s team is the 1.FFC Frankfurt, which has already won the national title seven times.