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Football in Germany

Soccer is rightfully considered as a “king of sports” in Germany. About 6,6 mln of the Germans (accounting for 8% of the population) are the members of one out of more than 26 000 clubs. Furthermore, one in four of Germany’s residents keeps an eye on the tournaments and championships with the participation of the German teams. 5% of them attend sports events on a regular basis, other fans prefer watching TV broadcasts and placing online bets. According to the official statistics, about 80 thousand soccer matches are held each weekend in Germany. Due to this broad audience coverage, Germany can be rightly named one of the most soccer-loving nations in the world.

Spread across Germany along with the appearance of the British courts, soccer emerged in the 1870s. At first, the game of the English sailors gained popularity in the port cities of the North — Hamburg, Kiel and Bremen — and then became widespread in other parts of the country. At that time, few, if any, placed bets that this game would win hearts and minds of generations.

The Dresden English Soccer Club is considered to be the first German soccer club and the first European club formed outside Great Britain. Later on, the clubs appeared in other cities such as Hamburg and Berlin.

Traditionally, the sport of that time in Germany was perceived as the preparation for the military service, so the new soccer enthusiasm of youth received lukewarm support from the local authorities. Nevertheless, neither the older generation’s attitude nor the restrictions imposed in the educational institutions as well as the strained relations between the German and the British empires couldn’t prevent the spread of the game’s popularity. New teams and clubs began to form throughout the entire territory of the German Empire; they played not only with each other but also with away teams. Soccer betting was actively accepted at that time. Gradually, the regional soccer unions were formed. They later began to hold regular tournaments.

Having realized that the fight against the new sport fell flat, the German authorities decided to develop it, as to withstand to the British with honour not only at political and economic arenas but at soccer fields as well. Despite the ambitious idea, the activity of soccer associations in the German Empire was mostly limited to the small districts near Berlin for a long time. The first Soccer Championship outside municipal land took place in 1898.

The German Football Association (the DFB) was established by the members of 86 German State soccer clubs in Leipzig on January 28, 1900. Ferdinand Hueppe was chosen the first president of the organization. It took eight years for the German national soccer team to make their way to the international tournaments. Since then, they have been under the guidance of the DFB — the soccer governing body in Germany.

Germany’s postwar division influenced the subsequent development of soccer. While the German Football Association represented West Germany, the Saarland Football Association and East Germany participated independently.

In 1948 there were 10 teams struggling to become the winner of the first championship of East Germany. The leader of the GDR championship was Berlin Dynamo holding the leading position 10 years in a row. Although sports betting in the USSR was officially banned, the public interest in soccer was constantly growing.

At that time the FRG national team had already been playing in the international arena. At the 1954 World Cup, FRG did not only beat the major favorite (the Hungarian national team) but also became the world champion. In 1966 the FRG national team demonstrated a successful game but unfortunately lost to the English national team in the final.

An interesting event in the German soccer history of this period is the confrontation between East and West Germany at 1974 World Cup, which took place on the territory of West Germany. The West and the East met in Hamburg on June 22, 1974. And although all odds were surprisingly in favor of the FRG, the GDR team defeated the home team with the score 0:1. Despite GDR pulled off a shocking upset win, it was knocked out from the tournament, while FRG team became the world champion.

The German national soccer team repeated their success in 1990, when Argentina, the world champion at that time, was defeated. This was the year when the German reunification took place, therefore, Western and Eastern parts of Germany celebrated this achievement together. The East Germany Football Association was dissolved, and the German Football Association took control over soccer in unified Germany. The changes concerned the national team — former East Germany team players expanded the line-up. At the same time, the newly-established team preserved the titles of a three-time World champion and a two-time European champion.

The unusual history of the German national football team hasn’t prevented it from being one of the most decorated teams in the world. The team made it to the finals at the 2002 World Cup, having been defeated by Brazil only. The 2006 and 2010 World Championships resulted in the honourable third place for Germany, while the 2014 World Championship in Brazil appeared to be victorious. Also, the team can boast three wins at the European championships (1972, 1980, 1996). In total, the national team’s collection of trophies comprises four gold, silver and bronze world championship and three European championship medals. It makes them the leader in the number of medals won in these competitions. In 2017, the Germans managed to claim the Confederations Cup, which resulted in their enormous sports betting ratings in the world. The Legendary Lothar Matthaus can boast a total of 150 appearances as a member of the national team, Miroslav Klose, who scored 71 times during his career in 2001-2014, bears the honorary title of the best scorer.

The Germany club level sets a high standard. Three German clubs - Bayern (5 wins), Borussia and Hamburg are on the list of the Champions League winners. Six out of fourteen Europa League finals, the German clubs took part in, ended in their victory.

Football fans easily recognize their favourite national team. Playing at home, the footballers wear the black and white kit, the team’s hallmark since 1954, when the company Adidas became their official sponsor. With the course of time, the form design underwent some changes, there appeared red and gold - the German flag colours. Another form in the white-green colours changed more dramatically - at the 2006 World Cup players entered the field wearing red gaiters and T-shirts.

The extreme popularity of Germany as a team to place bets on is explained by the fact that it is the only country to have won FIFA Women's and Men’s World Cups. The Germany national women’s football team won the World Cup twice — in 2003 and 2007. The team is also well-known for their winning streak at the European Cup, the champions of which they were five times in a row — in the 1991-2009 period. What is more, German women managed to grab gold at the 2016 Olympic Football Tournament. It is also necessary to mention, that Germany won the U21 European Cup twice (in 2009 and 2017).

The German Football Association— the chief football governing body in the country, played an important role in such great success.

The German Football Association is by right considered the largest and most financially successful football association in the world. The DFB has the status of a registered non-commercial organization, located in Frankfurt am Main.

Having been founded in Leipzig in 1990, the German Football Association, alongside with seven other European football unions, is among the first members of the International Football Association — FIFA. Despite the fact that representatives of the German Empire were not present at the first meeting of FIFA in 1904, they telegraphed Paris and expressed their readiness to sign the final decision on joining the new organization and adopting the organization’s charter. Therefore, the German Football Association occupied a stable position at the roots of European football. After the events of 1939-1945, FIFA temporarily stopped sports relations with Germany. However, after the request of the English Football Association, the relations were restored. Accordingly, the official revival of the DFB on January 21, 1950, in Stuttgart can be named as the “second birthday” of the German Football Association.

At the moment the German Football Association includes more than 26 000 clubs from all over the country. The structure of the association is represented by the five regional federations which in their turn contain 21 regional associations. The total number of football union members, coaches, technical and managing stuff is over 6.6 mln people. Over one-sixth of these employees are women, who belong to the 8600 teams. Alongside with the adult teams, the composition of the National Football Association oversees the activity of junior teams, therefore, providing the continuity of generations in German football.

For the first time after the resumption of the DFB, Germany, in particular, the FRG held the World Cup in 1974. There was allocated a budget of 123 million euro (in terms of the current exchange rate) to build 9 brand-new stadiums covering the requirements for such a large-scale event. The efforts the Germans made to prepare their team for The World Cup were not in vain - the German Federal Republic won the tournament, surpassing the Netherland team with the score 2:1 in the final. Dedicated fans who placed hundreds of bets on their favourite team to win were exulted.

The next major event organized on the territory of Germany became the European Football Championship in 1988, where 8 teams participated: 7 qualified group winners and the FRG team as the host country. The teams were divided into two subgroups. The FRG team, being the best among its subgroup, moved to the play-off and lost with the score 2:1 in the match with the Netherlands, whose team became the winner of the championship afterwards. About 70 000 fans followed the final game at the Olympic stadium in Munich.

In 2006 the DFB once again hosted the 18th World Cup. During the month, 20 German cities welcomed visitors from all over the world. The games within the Championship took place on the twelve most modern and safe stadiums in Germany. Each arena hosted four group games as well as the quarterfinals.

It was for the first time since 1970 when the German team won all the group matches. In the quarterfinals game against Sweden, Germany showed a head-start, having scored 2 goals by the twelfth minute. Such success left the stands lost in excitement, and the betting odds on this match changed swiftly by the moment. In the quarterfinals, the German national team showed a much more balanced game against Argentina. After the first half, Argentina led with a score of 1:0, so Germany stepped up their pressure by fielding Tim Borowski and David Odonkor. The Germans’ efforts were rewarded in the 80th minute, when, Miroslav Klose tied the score with Tim Borowski’s assist. Thanks to Jens Lehmann’s performance in the extra time, the team was able to make it to the semifinals.

In the semifinal match, Germany clashed with the future champion – Italy. Despite the fact that the match after the ordinary time ended in a draw, the game was quite intense and exciting. In the extra time, the Italian team got on an offensive, and in the 119th minute Fabio Grosso scored the first goal, and a minute later Alessandro Del Piero succeeded in bringing up the score to 2:0 in favour of Italians. Dropped out from the semifinals, the German team took the field against Portugal, and defeated them with a score of 3:1, securing the place in the top three of the 2006 World Cup.

The German Football Association represents Germany in the international arena as well as organizes national competitions. The German Football Championship (the Bundesliga), major cup competitions, as well as women's, junior and amateur football competitions, are held under its guidance.

Millions of fans, thousands of bets and overall excitement annually accompany Germany’s largest football competition. The Bundesliga is a professional championship of German football clubs, which is at the same time the top division in Germany and one of the strongest divisions of the world. The Bundesliga was founded on July 28, 1962, in Dortmund, when the majority of the German Football Association members came flat-footed for the establishment of a unified FRG professional league. Starting from the 1963/1964 football season, as many as 18 best teams of the country fought for the Germany Champion title. Millions of Germans follow the sports competition from August till May, place sports bets on any of the teams and flood the country’s stadiums. Live broadcasts and live betting are available for foreign fans from 208 countries.

During the championship, each participating team plays 34 matches and meets each rival twice. A modern scoring system is used to determine the position of the teams in the standings. Winning a match will bring the team three points, ending a match in a draw will bring one point. If a team loses, it doesn’t get any points.

The clubs, which settle at the first four positions of the standings after the championship, are qualified for the UEFA Champions League, the first three leaders proceed to the group stage, and the fourth team goes for the playoffs. The teams on positions five and six make it to the group and play-off rounds of the UEFA Europa League respectively.

FC Bayern Munich, the 26-time champion, represents the most successful Bundesliga participant. It is followed by Borussia Mönchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund, each of them has 5 victories under their belt.

Among the cup competitions the most significant ones are the DFB-Cup, the DFL-Liga Cup and the DFL-Supercup.

The German Cup is the second important national tournament. Nürnberg became the first Cup winner in 1935, which was able to defeat Schalke 04 in the final with the score of 2:0. More than 55 000 football fans watched the match held in Dusseldorf. Afterwards, following the allocation to pots, the decisive matches were held in different cities, but since 1985 the final stage determined its permanent venue – the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

64 teams take part in a Cup tie. According to the Rules, 18 clubs from the 1st Bundesliga, 18 from the 2nd Bundesliga and 4 leaders of 3. Liga. The remaining places (21) are divided between the winners of the regional football competitions, another 3 participants are appointed by the German Football Association. Under the amendment of 2008, the reserve teams playing in the minor leagues do not have the right to join the Cup Championship.

Primarily, the teams are divided into two groups (32 in each of the groups) according to their level. Therefore, teams of the 3rd League and amateur teams are in the first group. The second group includes teams from the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga. After the seeding, one round is held at the field of a weaker team. According to the results of the match, the baskets of the next stage are formed by the same rules. Holding next stages does not involve division into groups, therefore, pairs are determined by a blind draw.

As many as 25 different clubs won the trophy during the German Cup; 15 of the teams won it several times. The absolute record-breaker is FC Bayern Munich with 18 victories. Werder Bremen is in the second position with six victories, followed by FC Schalke 04 with five wins. Eintracht Frankfurt, 1. FC Nürnberg, 1. FC Köln and Borussia Dortmund are the four-time winners.

As for the number of games played in the German Cup, Mirko Votava, who played for teams Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen 79 times, is the record-holder. Eintracht Frankfurt’s Karl-Heinz Körbel played only nine games less. Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn is in the third position with 67 games played. The best goal scorer in the history of the championship is Gerhard Müller, who scored record-high 78 goals for FC Bayern München. Nevertheless, Bastian Schweinsteiger is the most successful football player of the German Cup — he won the champion title seven times.

The large winners’ pot, which is more than 38 million euros, ensures the high popularity and prestige of the German Cup. In addition to payments for the victory in this or that competition stage, the teams gain extra profits from the television broadcasts. During the German Cup, fans have the opportunity to not only enjoy their favourite club’s winnings but also to benefit from sports betting.

The German League Cup, held in the period 1997-2007, is also considered an important German soccer competition. It was a mini-tournament, which took place before the start of the Bundesliga season. Every year from the middle of July to the beginning of August, fans could keep an eye on the championship hunt between the top six German teams.

The first five Bundesliga teams and the winner of the German Cup competed in the League Cup. In case if one team was in the top five leaders of the championship and at the same time was the winner of the German Cup the right to participate should get the team at the sixth place in the standings. In the latest 2007 season, the vacant place was taken by the winner of the second Bundesliga.

The tournament was based on the Olympic system where the winner was chosen in accordance with the results of three rounds. In this case, the champion of Germany and the Cup holder were to join the struggle from the second round. The duration of one match was 90 minutes and in case of a draw after the full time, the outcome was determined by the penalty shootout. For the whole history of the League Cup, FC Bayern Munich has remained the absolute leader with six wins against two wins of Hertha BSC and Hamburger SV. Werder Bremen and FC Schalke 04 also became holders of the trophy in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

In 2010 the DFB-Liga cup was replaced by the DFL-Supercup. The tournament was held in 1941 for the first time, however, for almost half a century it was lacking the official standing. The first official DFL-Supercup tournament was held in 1987, during which FC Bayern Munich won the match against Hamburger SV 2:1. Over the next ten years, two best German teams – the German Champion and the German Cup winner of the previous year – met annually in the stadiums in the dead heat for the trophy. If both titles belonged to the same team, the club, occupying the second position in the Bundesliga standings, played against it. With the establishment of the DFB-Liga cup in 1997, the DFL-Supercup was suspended. The Super Cup reclaimed its place among significant national competitions in 2010. It happened after the German Football Association had assigned it the official status. The first match between Bayern and Schalke 04 (2:0), hosted by the Augsburg arena, gathered more than 30 000 fans. Soccer fans who were not lucky enough to get tickets for the match had the opportunity to watch the game on all major TV channels and make online bets.

To satisfy the fans' demand for a bright and spectacular game, a large number of stadiums were built on the territory of Germany. The largest of them is Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, which can host up to 80 000 fans. The Olympic stadium in Berlin is wide open for 76 000 spectators, which is 5000 more than the Allianz Arena, built in 2005 in Munich, can host.

Soccer is an integral part of Germany’s cultural paradigm. Interest towards this kind of sport forms since childhood. Every town and city in the country has children’s, youth and amateur teams. Soccer deeply settled in the German media culture — match overviews are published in newspapers and online editions every day, what is more, no German TV program can do without a sports news block. Bookmakers daily offer a wide range of lines and markets on football events with rather attractive betting odds, on live-events as well. Football blogs and communities of interest can be found on the Internet. In addition, online bets are accepted and stadium streams are broadcasted to the Web. The developed fan culture the Germans have contributes to the powerful support of their national team during home and away matches. The spectacular games of German soccer teams, the high-level of championships' organization and the huge love of fans granted German soccer the first place on the sports Olympus.