⋆ SOCCER NATION ⋆


Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Germany and the German Football Association (DFB: Deutscher Fußball-Bund) the largest sports association worldwide. Even though other team sports like Basketball or Ice Hockey are played in Germany, soccer holds the unbeaten title as Germany's national sport. During the nation's division, the first national league (Bundesliga) was founded in 1963 in West Germany. The German Democratic Republic, however, already founded its national league in 1949. The Bundesliga integrated their clubs in the 1991 - 1992 season, shortly after Germany's reunification. Today, the Bundesliga has 18 clubs that are competing for the title of the German national champion. It has the highest attendance globally and became a pillar of German culture. The success story of soccer in Germany is attributed to low ticket prices, new stadiums, eventful games, and enthusiasm for sport. Besides the national league, there are two subordinate leagues, namely the Bundesliga 2 and Bundesliga 3, that enjoy popularity among their fans.

August Herrmann and Konrad Koch, two school teachers, organized the first match on German soil on school grounds in 1874 and caused a cultural struggle because the German Empire regarded the game as un-German.  Both patriots and educators argued that soccer was too rough and compared sports to an English disease that esthetics could compare to an elephant. Karl Planck, a gymnast, argued that stretching the knees would deteriorate the Germans back into monkeys on the evolution level (Therefore, do not wonder if you hear other fans making monkey sounds while rooting for your team. They may refer to the humble beginnings of Germany's national sport). The fight resulted in a ban on soccer for Bavaria's youth. However, the new sport's enthusiasm soon spread across other towns, and shortly after the first game had been played, Koch published the first German rulebook based on the rules of 1863 of the English Football Association. The word soccer derived as an abbreviation from the term "association football." Most soccer clubs were established in bigger cities first. Graduates from technical universities promoted soccer by founding new soccer clubs. It did not happen by chance that these new clubs had names like "Germania" and "Alemania." Also, they took over rituals from fraternities that did not accept them while they were students. Special features were their hats and ribbon bands.  The game was still a mixture between rugby and football, but cross-border competitions promoted coherent rules. Since 1908 there has been a national team in Germany. A significant upturn in soccer history took place during the roaring twenties in the Weimar Republic, in which new stadiums shot up like mushrooms all across the country. Suppose one wants to decode the success story behind soccer in German cultural life:  In that case, one has to take German history into account, according to an article published by Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education. Soccer represents German culture just like a Cheeseburger is associated with the United States (or Baseball, American Football, etc.). It was the year 1954, which marked the end of shame and gave Germany a boost when the national team won the first World Cup. Soccer has established itself as a cause of a German flag waving expression of patriotism since 2016. Fortunately, something that is even accepted by critical contemporaries. Former citizens had to take the wind out of their sails by pointing out the historical meaning of the black, red, and gold flag.  Unlike in the past, today's soccer is appreciated by people from all walks of life, making Germany a true soccer nation. Since not every American reader is familiar with the European sports of soccer, there is one slight hint to be made: Do not confuse soccer with Gaelic Football, the Irish version of Germany's most appreciated game.

Sources / Quellenangabe:

"Die DFB Geschichte."Deutscher Fussball-Bund, DFB

https://www.dfb.de/index.php?id=1000477

Gebauer, Gunter."Vom Proletensport zum Kulturgut."Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, bpb, 16 February 2016.

https://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/medien-und-sport/bundesliga/164726/vom-proletensport-zum-kulturgut?p=0

Gunkel, Christoph."Ein Spiel? Ein Kampf!" Spiegel Geschichte, vol 6, 2020, pp.74 -78.