At the beginning of 21st century, the giant Oliver Bierhoff was the greatest symbol of the apathetic german football. Experient, corpulent, with long shins, bad technic and almost without any movimentation, the striker abused of his 1.91 m to score the only way he knew: on the air, between the defenders, firmly nodding to the net. This movement was repeated until exhaustion. Match by match.
At 2000’s Eurocup, in Belgium, Germans felt the limitation in their football cleat. Allocated on a group of great teams — England, Portugal and Romania — they fell at first level, scoring a single point and goal. Shame for a three-time world champion shirt, that already dressed Franz Beckenbauer, Karl Rummenigge and Paul Breitner.
“We were thinking exactly like Brazilians think today: we don’t need to learn a damn thing. Match after match, a disgrace” — Paul Breitner
The disqualification in 2000 woke up the Germans. Authorities made national team performance a state issue. The government traced an ambitious plan: in one decade, Germany would be a world football reference.
The mission, said the governors, was to bring back the enchantment of football towards the population. The country placed its hand on the pocket. In a little more than twelve years, they invested about US$ 1 billion in academies and training centers (TC) for young. The idea was to use these public TCs to teach football with a two measures recipe: 50% ability, 50% strength — in contrast with 200% strength they were using at the time.
DFB (German Football Association) take care of everything, it’s their CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation). Connected to the government, the German association owns 366 football training centers. Since 2001, kids from 9 to 17 years develop their talents in academies near their houses, without any link to a professional team. About 1,000 coaches train more than 25,000 young. DFB is everything that CBF isn’t. The Brazilian Football Confederation is a private entity, and don’t provide any plan to develop players besides the base national team (sub-15, 17 and 20), that only picks young talents from professional teams. Also, there’s the corruption — the scandals have been mounted up for decades.
Meanwhile, in Germany, DFB reformed the Bundesliga — their national championship. Their first step was to impose a rigorous financial politic. Their teams now have to send, three times per year, certificates of their positive budgets. Analysing one by one, the cases should strictly follow a 200 pages book that specifies all finance rules.
If approved, they can play the league. If not, W.O.: they loose points and, if the administrative “infraction” is too severe, they don’t even enter in field. In that manner, none extravagance, like hiring a Neymar, could be accomplished without any guarantees that the team could pay for. This kind of control was capable to almost extinguish the teams debts. From 30 teams of Bundesliga, only two has debts. Expenses such as salaries are below 50% of teams budget; in another countries, this value goes beyond 70%. In Brazil, the debt of the 20 greatest teams is U$1.8 billion. In England, is U$ 5 billion.
With this pack, the German mission was clear: develop new talents and feed their football inside a sustainable championship. Today, 13 years after, their results are solid. Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, two of the greatest German teams, were finalists at Champions League, the principal interclub championship of the world. Like a good farming, proliferated new aces. Mario Götze (20), André Schürrle (22), Marco Reus (23) and Thomas Müller (23), are few names that make Bierhoff and his old fellows look like practitioners of another sport. To complete, the German league has the biggest crowd of the world, average of 45,000 spectators (40% women). The Borussia Dortmund’s crowd have average of 80,000 per match! It’s like a Libertadores (the principal interclub championship of America) final inside Maracanã stadium each sunday — An inedit thing in football history. The Brazilian championship (Brasileirão) has an average crowd of 15,000. The second division of German championship has an average of 17,000.
The fact is that none country treats football so seriously like Germany. And it’s not to just try winning trophies. When they proposed a revolution on football, their justificative was the following:
“Only the ball could be capable to unite the nation”
It makes more sense than it looks. Germany is the third country with most immigrants around the world (behind USA and Russia). More than 20% of 82 million Germans are immigrants or children of immigrants. In a country that not much time ago was necessary to be “arian” to be recognized as a citizen, this could become a cauldron of intolerance. Football helps to maintain this in low heat, precisely because nothing in Germany embraced more immigrants than football.
Bayern München, for example, is an ethnic rainbow. In the most traditional German tean, they have black, white, conky, hairless, black power people. If we dress them with Bangu (a Brazilian team of Rio de Janeiro) shirt, it looks like they are cariocas (people born in Rio de Janeiro).
A combination that makes Hitler roll in his grave — and, together with all initiatives that we saw here, to make Germany a four-times champion inside Brazil, the country of football corruption