DFB expert council: doubts that a summer fairy tale 2.0 will succeed (opinion)

DFB expert council: doubts that a summer fairy tale 2.0 will succeed (opinion)

panel of experts
A fresh start at the DFB, with Rolex and Red Bull: that’s not going to happen with a new summer fairy tale

DFB President Bernd Neuendorf, Oliver Mintzlaff, Oliver Kahn, Karl-Hein Rummenigge, Rudi Völler and Matthias Sammer

DFB President Bernd Neuendorf (large) has his hopes in Oliver Mintzlaff, Oliver Kahn, Karl-Hein Rummenigge, Rudi Völler and Matthias Sammer (small, from left to right) at the new start for the national team

© Andre Pain / AFP

It’s the old guard that DFB President Bernd Neuendorf is drumming up for a fresh start with the national team. In addition to the search for a Bierhoff successor, the expert panel should also take care of the sporting development and the solidarity with the fans. It’s hard to believe that the gentlemen will succeed in all of this.

In 549 days it starts with the opening game: the home European Championship 2024. DFB-President Bernd Neuendorf has 549 days to get his association and the men’s national team back on track after the World Cup defeat in Qatar, because the expectations for the tournament in a year and a half are high: Who doesn’t dream of a second summer fairy tale?

In order for this to succeed, the DFB boss has to clean up at least two construction sites. In terms of sport, the national team is at its lowest point, the early World Cup exit – be it deserved or undeserved – is evidence of the decline of the past few years. Getting back on track here can be successful. Despite the weaknesses that the national team in Qatar in defense and when scoring goals, there are players in the team who give hope: Antonio Rüdiger or Niclas Füllkrug, to name two examples. National coach Hansi Flick, who practically has a job guarantee, still has around a dozen games before the European Championship to form his team for the tournament.

DFB sets up a panel of experts – with familiar faces

The other construction site should be larger: For a summer fairy tale 2.0 the relationship between team and fans has to be cemented again. Because even if there is a different opinion in the Frankfurt DFB headquarters. Association and national team have a massive identification problem. The weak TV ratings and the low stadium utilization for home international matches prove it in numbers. And emotionally, every football fan can probably name something that doesn’t suit him or her in terms of the relationship with the national team.

The challenges wants Bernd Neuendorf tackle, but he wants to “keep a cool head” and “not rush anything”, as he emphasized at his press conference on Tuesday. A five-person committee is to help him, a kind of council of wise men. Its members should only take care of sporting matters, for example the promotion of young people, but also the sporting orientation for the EM 2024. Another task: find a successor for ex-national team managing director Oliver Bierhoff. But here, too, the rule is “do not rush things”; the committee is to meet for the first time by Christmas.

Watch the full length of the DFB press conference here:

It can be considered certain that the committee will fill the post again. Some candidates are already more or less obvious, such as Fredi Bobic. Together with Hansi Flick the Bierhoff successor can then work on the team for the European Championship.

But it is doubtful that the expert council can provide impetus for the urgently needed solidarity between the national team and the fans in view of its members. With their appointment, Neuendorf failed to send a signal for a real new beginning in terms of personnel.

Ex-Bayern Munich boss Karl Heinz Rummenigge67, For example, in addition to his undisputed sporting successes, he most recently stands for dubious (and untaxed) Rolex luxury watch gifts and advertising deals in connection with World Cup host Qatar – and thus for exactly what many fans now detest about football: backroom politics and extremes commercialization.

He is joined in the expert council from the FC Bayern camp Oliver Kahn, 53, who is also the CEO of the record champions. This dual role is viewed critically. “In my view, that bites,” said ex-professional Horst Heldt on Sky, for example. Also 1996 European Champion Matthew Sammer, 55, despite his current consulting position at Borussia Dortmund, can confidently be attributed to the Bayern block, as he was active there for four years as a sports director. Fourth man in the league is Rudi Voeller, 62, still a crowd favorite, but not necessarily someone you associate with the football of tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Only Oliver Mintzlaff, 47, is something of a small surprise in the DFB’s personnel tableau. But the former RB-Leipzig boss and current managing director of the Red Bull shower manufacturer is certainly not a symbol for greater fan proximity. On the contrary: The business model of RB Leipzig is heavily criticized in fan circles, keyword here again: the commercialization driven to extremes.

DFB is stewing in its own juice

Apart from Mintzlaff, an expert council of the DFB could have been filled ten years ago as it is today. The association is once again threatening to stew in its own juice and to rule out innovations. In addition: nobody younger than 47, no woman and nobody with a perhaps somewhat alternative view of professional football and its role in society, just old school thinking. There would have been alternatives, Neuendorf could have asked around, for example, at Eintracht Frankfurt or SC Freiburg or in the environment of the women’s national team. “We have freed ourselves from all the considerations that can now of course be made: shouldn’t we or shouldn’t we have done this and that…?” DFB boss Neuendorf justified the choice. “We have now made the decision for this working group.”

A real fresh start looks different. In sporting terms, the turning point may succeed. However, in view of this advisory body, the fact that many fans will identify with the national team again by the EM 2024 can be doubted, after all it must be about getting as many people as possible enthusiastic about the national team and a new summer fairy tale. Neuendorf can only hope that his plan with Rummenigge, Kahn, Sammer, Völler and Mintzlaff will work out – at best much earlier than in 549 days.

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