Dhe Wednesday was a special day at this World Cup in two respects. It was the first time it rained, flashed and thundered in Qatar. In the north of the country, not far from the oasis where the Germans resided until recently, a tornado even raged. At the same time, it was the first day on which no football was played. After the quarter-finals, the tournament schedule included two rest days.
But this Wednesday was also the day on which German football played around 4500 kilometers from the center of world football. Just completely different than he had imagined – with two showdowns in one day, at the German Football Association (DFB) and at the German Football League (DFL).
After that, German football – which had created its own sporting and sports-political tornado since the national team left Qatar a week earlier – no longer looked the way it had before. The empire of Oliver Bierhoff, who created the image of the German national team according to his ideas since 2004, blew it away on Monday after 18 years. Less than 48 hours later, DFL Managing Director Donata Hopfen, the first woman to head a powerful German football organization, had to give up without having achieved anything.
And Hansi Flick, after a crisis summit at which his position seemed to be on the brink, is heading towards the 2024 European Championship in Germany with the best of wishes, but as a badly weakened national coach.
Maybe the last chance
After the storm has abated, the picture of the situation gradually becomes clearer. It can be said: German football has never made such drastic changes in such a short time, but it has rarely been under so much pressure to lose the future. For the national team, the European Championship in their own country is perhaps the last chance not to squander their great sporting and social importance in radically changed times. And the DFL has to fight like never before not to lose touch with the commercially exploding and expanding club football.
The biggest dilemma in German football is also becoming visible after this storm: Some of those responsible are well aware of the challenges and the difficult questions for the future. But personal answers that are suitable for the 21st century are still hardly recognizable, especially when it comes to the DFB.
President Bernd Neuendorf, who came into office in March after years of the internal cabal, initially provided a certain reassurance, but in Qatar he was not the one who was around the “One Love” armband and the mouth-to-mouth action could set a direction that would have done the national team and the DFB good. It is significant that Hans-Joachim Watzke now has the task of managing the various crises almost alone.
The battle-hardened BVB managing director, DFL supervisory board chairman and first DFB vice-president will have already reached the retirement age of 65 at the EM. There are no alternatives in sight at the moment, and nobody would have dreamed that even Bayern Munich would be largely absent after the departures of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß.