Football’s New Superpower

Eoghan Dalton takes a look at the rising popularity of German football.

After years of combined English and Spanish dominance, the season gone through produced an unexpected final; an all-German meeting between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. Bayern won out, although it could easily have gone Dortmund’s way. What it showed though was that the Bundesliga, the German football league, has risen above its rivals, with not just one but two clubs rising to the top of Europe’s elite competition.

Its representatives have been trying their utmost to bring the league back to the glory years that stretched from 1997 to 2002, where four Champions League finals out of six featured German sides.  The Germans were successful on two of those occasions, although the other two gave TV companies iconic moments that will forever be repeated on highlight reels with Zidane’s trophy winning volley and Sami Kuffour’s overflowing tear ducts.

If a “Best League” award existed today, the Bundesliga would likely be even money to win it thanks to its finances, youth structure, ability to attract foreign talent and admirable crowd attendances.

Let’s start by looking at the Bundesliga’s financial situation; German clubs are run much more responsibly than their counterparts across Europe. This allows more clubs to rise through the table over the seasons, unlike in England and Spain where the same teams dominate continuously. Too many clubs in Europe have been careless with their funds over the past 15 years, leaving small but ambitious clubs floundering. Naturally the competitive spirit in the Bundesliga brings more interest in the league, which is reflected in attendance.

Out of the top 20 European clubs attendance wise, there are 8 German clubs in the list, far ahead of any other country. Playing in front of large, exuberant crowds is enticing for any player, not to mention casual fans. The atmosphere at Bundesliga matches is admirably exhilarating and good natured. These high attendances also tie in nicely with the clubs’ finances.

Combine these different factors and it’s not hard to see why German clubs have been able to attract both foreign and young talent. After the international team’s collapse at Euro 2000, the German FA teamed up with the nation’s clubs in an attempt at creating technically proficient players. Academies were founded across the two top divisions to do just that. The benefits are evident for everyone to see, with the likes of Mesut Ozil (24) and Toni Kroos (23) coming from this new system. The emergence of talented acquisitions from grass root level is now becoming a key feature in Germany.

It’s also quite different at coaching level; a striking number of people in Germany hold coaching licenses. Over 28, 000 have a B license (compared to England’s 1,759), while 1, 070 have a Pro license (almost 10 times England’s 115). This gives clubs a wider pool of native options, both on the field and off it.

These are all crucial factors that have helped the Bundesliga overcome its much wealthier and better known counterparts in Europe. This model of success is certainly more sustainable than what the likes of PSG and Monaco are doing in France, Manchester City in England and Real Madrid in Spain, all of which continue to spend mountains of money on foreign talent.

The success of German football is clear for all to see and it’s almost certain that others will soon follow in their footsteps.