Germany may have become runner-up to Brazil in the last World Cup, but since then not much has gone right for German soccer. Last season, Bundesliga teams exited early from Europe's top club competition the Champion's League and the national side was humiliated during the Euro 2004 in Portugal last summer. On top of that, German soccer has long had an image problem. None of the flash of Italian, Spanish or Brazilian incarnations of the game and lacking the grit and determination of the English variant was the most common assessment. At best, German soccer, which has undeniably had its moments, was considered 'workmanlike' and efficient. That reputation of being hardworking and straightforward extended to German referees, which have been held in high standing internationally. German Football Association (DFB) ref Markus Merk was even voted the world's best in 2004, exemplifying how fair and impartial German officials were thought to be. Though Dr Merk's integrity may be beyond … [Read more...] about Opinion: A Shadow Over German Soccer
The jerseys of Germany's national soccer team were already selling nicely in the run-up to this year's World Cup in Brazil, but when the German squad clinched its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, demand went through the roof. Adidas, the giant German sports apparel maker, could not get shirts with the newly added fourth star - one for each World Cup title - quickly enough to stores across Germany to satisfy customer demand. As a result, many stores sold out the shirts they received in a matter of minutes and had to tell fans to come back later or order online. What many Germany fans probably did not know about their favorite national team's jersey is that it comes equipped with a tracking tag. The device known as a radio frequency identification or RFID chip is used to transfer or track data automatically via electromagnetic fields. The technology has been used for logistics purposes for some time, but is increasingly being applied in consumer products as well - often without … [Read more...] about Tagging along – is Adidas tracking soccer fans?
There was massive applause for Thomas Murken on Friday afternoon. The teacher from Bremen is one of the winners of this year's integration prize presented by the German Football Association (DFB). His work with his pupils won his primary school a brand new Mercedes Vito van. Football is an "engine for integration," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who left the daily chaos of eurozone crisis meetings to join the award ceremony in Berlin. Over the past years, Merkel has shown a growing interest in soccer as being Germany's most popular sport, and she's stressed that the annual integration prize serves to put the public's focus on many small projects and initiatives. This year, for instance, the small suburban club Fontana Finthen from just outside the city of Mainz, was among the winners. Each year the club organizes a training camp for children whose parents don't have enough money to go on holiday – and many of the kids joining the camp have an immigrant background. … [Read more...] about Soccer award highlights sport as ‘engine for integration’
For true football fans, there's nothing more moving than swaying shoulder on shoulder with fellow fans in the stadium and shouting their team's anthem. Doing that the moment the ball drops into their opponent's goal is even better, of course - and better yet, after winning a tournament. When the stadium joins in song, big, strong men get weak in the knees. Diehard fans could sing their club's songs in their sleep. Many of them, however, are shamelessly stolen from pop music. Celtic Glasgow fans, for example, have taken Depeche Mode's hit "Just Can't Get Enough" - and are very skilled at shouting it out in time with the beat. The most famous football song of all time, of course, is "You'll Never Walk Alone," first adopted by FC Liverpool in England. The melody originally dates back to the Rogers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel," which was a story of love in turbulent times, a robbery and the death of a loved one. The hopeful song is featured at the end of the tragic musical. From … [Read more...] about 5 soccer songs that have nothing to do with soccer
Soccer -- as we’re all repeatedly told -- is the beautiful game. And a simple one at that. You’ve got two teams, usually, with eleven ugly men either side. They spend 90 minutes or so, kicking a ball around. And, in the end, Germany always wins. Or so the saying goes. A simple game made for men. So what has Heidi Klum got to do with it all? The German supermodel is a woman, right?! Well, it turns out that next year’s World Cup is all about women. It’s a simple matter of business. Ms Klum is just about Germany’s best export. She‘s the classic Teutonic bride. She’s bigger than cars, and better than sex. Small wonder, given that she was once heard suggesting, in a coquettish voice, at a photo shoot that “these panties should be smaller, don’t you think?” Yes, dear. So, you get Ms Klum reeling in the punters to an event that could either be a further financial defeat for Germany or its remaking. It stands to reason then that … [Read more...] about Opinion: Soccer, Sex Workers and the Single Male
FIFA president Giannio Infantino has suggested that the "strange” transfer system in modern soccer is in need of a clean up and hopes to implement a number of changes to the current setup. Speaking to Reuters, the 46-year-old former lawyer stated that the publishing of agents' fees would help clear up the mystery behind the huge amounts of money circulating throughout European leagues. "Whether it's true or not, the perception often is that there is something strange happening with these transfers," said Infantino. "It is important if you move a few billion dollars in one or two months, you must make sure that everything happens in a clean way." Since an agreement with the European Commission in 2001, FIFA has been responsible for policing transfers between clubs across dozens of leagues yet the president believes the old model is outdated and in need of changing. "After 15 years it is time to seriously revise it and bring it a little more transparency and a little more … [Read more...] about FIFA president Infantino set on cleaning up soccer’s ‘strange’ transfer market
Germany and the Netherlands resumed diplomatic relations 65 years ago. DW spoke with Friso Wielenga about how the two countries dealt with the scars of the Holocaust, a royal wedding and jealously on the soccer pitch to solidify their current friendship. Friso Wielenga: When people say that nowadays, it's an echo of the past. There were, in fact, difficult phases in the post-war era; normalizing ties was a long process. But a look at the history of German-Dutch relations since the state of war officially ended in 1951 shows that over the last 20 years, the relationship has been largely unproblematic. The Netherlands were occupied by the German Wehrmacht from May 1940 to April 1945. How significant is that in the Dutch people's collective memory? The German invasion in May 1940 came as a huge shock to the Netherlands, which had a long-standing tradition of neutrality in foreign policies. The country hadn't participated in a war since the days of Napoleon. People had hoped to stay out … [Read more...] about From Nazi guilt to soccer rivalry, how Dutch-German ties have become ‘boringly normal’
On soccer pitches across Belgium this weekend, players will wear a black and white stripe on their faces. In Italy, an anti-racism banner will be unveiled before the opening whistle of every top Italian league and Italian Cup match. The measures, organized by the Belgian and Italian leagues, follow another shameful weekend of racism in European soccer. On Sunday, Messina's Ivory Coast defender Marc Zoro threatened to walk off the field after fans of his team's opponents, Inter Milan, repeatedly hurled racial epithets at him. Two Espanyol of Barcelona players, the Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni and the Brazilian midfielder Fredson, were subjected to racist chants in Madrid by fans of opponent Atletico Madrid. From fines to bans Though hardly a new problem in the Spanish and Italian leagues, both European soccer's governing body as well as the European Parliament have promised to throw the book at violators and disperse the dark cloud hanging over European soccer. "We are … [Read more...] about European Soccer’s Racism Problem
Germany is expecting over a million foreign visitors for this summer's soccer World Cup, from June 9 to July 9. After the match, they're all going to need a place to sleep that leaves enough euros in their pocket for a celebratory dinner. The average price for accommodation during the World Cup is 190 euros ($241) per night -- including everything from a youth hostel dorm room to a multi-star hotel suite, according to the FIFA World Cup Accommodation Services. That's a price some fans can't afford, according to Ergin Iyilikci, spokesperson for ImmobilienScout24, an online real estate agent that has set up a special Web site for people looking to rooms during the World Cup. "The average hotel rates can make for a pricey night," he said, explaining why young people and families are especially interested in Internet sites where they have a chance to stay in the homes of other soccer fans at more affordable rates or free of charge. Even for those willing to pay hotel prices, it is … [Read more...] about Giving Shelter to Soccer Fans
What if Germany's soccer league was suddenly flipped on its head, putting a tiny club at the top of the table and relegating a giant to bottom? A David versus Goliath story in the fight for glory and gold that sounds too good to be true. But it happened. The nongovernmental organization Environmental Action Germany (DUH) recently crowned second league Union Berlin the German champion, while putting first division Borussia Dortmund (BVB) in the relegation zone. It might sound strange - but then again, we're not, in strict terms, talking about football; but rather about which team scores biggest for the environment. "The mountains of trash after a soccer match are vast," Thomas Fischer of the DUH told DW. Citing a report based on a survey that clubs answered voluntarily, he said fans use around 4 million cups. Many of which end up not in bins, but scattered about the countryside. Joy and suffering But what do David and Goliath make of the DUH's study? Well, it was relatively easy to … [Read more...] about How green is your soccer match beer cup?