Ger­many 2024

The suc­cess­ful bid for Euro 2024 has given Ger­man foot­ball the chance to re­build its rep­u­ta­tion. Keir Radnedge re­ports

World Soccer - - Contents -

“We be­lieve Ger­many is the right part­ner at the right time for UEFA and for all of foot­ball in Europe” DFB pres­i­dent Rein­hard Grindel

Ger­man foot­ball sees the op­por­tu­nity for redemption in the Euro­pean Championship – both on the pitch and off it, with the na­tional team hop­ing to re­claim in 2020 the lus­tre it squan­dered at this year’s World Cup and the DFB put­ting fi­nan­cial scan­dal be­hind it by stag­ing Euro 2024.

In Septem­ber, UEFA’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee voted 12 to 4 – with one ab­sten­tion and one ill­ness ab­sen­tee – in favour of Ger­many for the lat­ter fi­nals.

The Euro­pean fed­er­a­tion is re­lieved to re­turn the 24-team tour­na­ment to a sin­gle host af­ter the de­rided, all-over­the-place stag­ing in 2020. The last time the fi­nals were held on Ger­man ter­ri­tory was by the for­mer Fed­eral Repub­lic in 1988, two years be­fore re­u­ni­fi­ca­tion.

Turkey, mean­while, must go on wait­ing to stage a ma­jor tour­na­ment, al­though Is­tan­bul did host the Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal in 2005 and will do so again in 2020. How­ever, this was the coun­try’s fourth fail­ure in its pur­suit of host­ing the Euro fi­nals.

The Turks had lost to France by just one vote in the duel for 2016 and their me­dia as­sailed UEFA pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin over 2024 for reneg­ing on some un­spec­i­fied sug­ges­tion that he had promised to back Turkey in ex­change for sup­port in his 2016 pres­i­den­tial bid.

The idea ap­pears highly un­likely and Ce­ferin has de­nied it. But what­ever the truth, he will not be count­ing on Turk­ish sup­port when he seeks re-elec­tion next spring – though that should have lit­tle

ef­fect on him re­main­ing in his post.

Re­gard­less of any vot­ing prom­ises, UEFA’s own re­port on the ri­val 2024 bids iden­ti­fied a string of Ger­man ad­van­tages.

Firstly, the DFB had pro­posed 10 sta­dia, all of which al­ready ex­ist, while Turkey had prof­fered seven ex­ist­ing are­nas, plus two more to be re­built and one to be ren­o­vated. In ad­di­tion, the to­tal ca­pac­ity for the 51 matches in Ger­many will be 2,780,000 – as op­posed to 2,290,000 in Turkey.

Se­condly, there is a no­table dif­fer­ence con­cern­ing in­ter­nal trans­port. Ger­many of­fers a solid road, rail and air net­work. As for Turkey, UEFA noted that “travel re­lies on air trans­port...and the scale of works to be un­der­taken in the given time-frame con­sti­tutes a risk, es­pe­cially in com­bi­na­tion with the de­pen­dence on a few air­ports for in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic travel”. Thirdly, hu­man rights pre­sented the widest chasm be­tween the ri­vals. Against an un­stated but ev­i­dent Turk­ish con­text of in­creas­ing re­pres­sion on jour­nal­is­tic and other free­doms, UEFA’s re­port was un­equiv­o­cal in stat­ing bluntly that “the lack of an ac­tion plan in the area of hu­man rights is a mat­ter for con­cern”.

Fi­nally, a re­stric­tion in Turkey on al­co­hol ad­ver­tis­ing “might be a po­ten­tial con­flict if a spon­sor­ship agree­ment is signed with a beer com­pany”.

Sud­denly, the black sum­mer clouds were clear­ing for Ger­man foot­ball and the DFB had a vic­tory to cel­e­brate.

Philipp Lahm will head the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee and he is promis­ing “a huge fes­ti­val with the whole of Europe to demon­strate how hos­pitable and open we are”.

Hope­fully it will be as happy as the World Cup of 2006 – but with­out any of the murky con­se­quences.

The open­ing match is ex­pected to be in Mu­nich with the Fi­nal four weeks later in Ber­lin. Other games will be staged in Cologne, Dortmund, Dus­sel­dorf, Frank­furt, Gelsenkirchen, Ham­burg, Leipzig and Stuttgart. The DFB has al­ready sub­mit­ted to UEFA a list of 76 team ho­tels, near 66 train­ing cen­tres, plus a fur­ther 38 pos­si­ble ho­tels.

All the sta­dia will be up­dated to state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing LED flood­lights and up­grades to cel­lu­lar net­work and broad­cast­ing fa­cil­i­ties. Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena, the only suit­able venue in the for­mer East Ger­many, will see rede­vel­op­ment start shortly to in­crease its ca­pac­ity from 43,000 to 52,000 at a cost of € 35mil­lion.

The 2024 fi­nals could be the first to gen­er­ate more than € 1bil­lion in rev­enue, based on pro­jec­tions fol­low­ing the

€ 847m from Euro 2016. By com­par­i­son the fi­nals in West Ger­many in 1988 added up to “only” € 14.7m. The prospect, as Lahm ap­pre­ci­ates, is an im­por­tant one in help­ing heal the wounds suf­fered by the Ger­man game since the ul­ti­mate high of win­ning the World Cup in the Mara­cana in 2014.

Joachim Low’s Ger­many were beaten

The 2024 fi­nals could be the first to gen­er­ate more than €1bil­lion in rev­enue ...by com­par­i­son the fi­nals in West Ger­many in 1988 added up to €14.7m

2-0 in the sub­se­quent Euro­pean semi­fi­nals by hosts France but that was quickly for­got­ten as Thomas Muller and co ram­paged through North­ern Ire­land, Czech Repub­lic, Nor­way, Azer­bai­jan and San Marino in qual­i­fy­ing for their World Cup de­fence in Rus­sia.

Added to this, what was es­sen­tially a third-string squad won the 2017 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup in Rus­sia – though with hind­sight, straws in the wind were ev­i­dent. The 1-0 Con­fed Cup Fi­nal vic­tory in Saint Peters­burg was achieved against a Chilean side who, though reign­ing South Amer­i­can ti­tle hold­ers, were on their way to World Cup qual­i­fy­ing fail­ure.

Low even hinted in his World Cup re­flec­tions that Con­fed­er­a­tions suc­cess may have lay­ered the ar­ro­gance of world cham­pion sta­tus with com­pla­cency.

The Deutscher Fuss­ball-Bund had once been viewed as a model of ex­em­plary ad­min­is­tra­tive com­pe­tence. But that had been shaken firstly by the 2006 World Cup far­rago and then by fur­ther ev­i­dence of dis­func­tion in the sec­ond half of last year.

In Hol­land, at the 2017 UEFA Women’s Championship, the over-hasty ap­point­ment of an ill-pre­pared St­effi Jones to coach the all-con­quer­ing Euro­pean cham­pi­ons in suc­ces­sion to Sil­via Neid came badly un­stuck. Then, back in the men’s camp, Low and gen­eral man­ager Oliver Bier­hoff squab­bled over the choice of CSKA Moscow’s Vatutinki com­plex – some 20 miles south­west of the cap­i­tal – as the hold­ers’ World Cup train­ing camp.

Worse was to fol­low in mid-May when mid­field­ers Me­sut Ozil and Ilkay Gun­do­gan sparked po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy through their ob­se­quious meet­ing in Lon­don with Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, the in­creas­ingly au­to­cratic and au­thor­i­tar­ian pres­i­dent of Turkey.

He had been ap­proach­ing na­tional elec­tions in Turkey and had been ral­ly­ing sup­port among the ex­pa­tri­ate com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly in Ger­many. The play­ers’ pre­sen­ta­tion of a shirt to Er­do­gan and Ozil’s ref­er­ence to “my pres­i­dent” went down badly in the con­text of the rise of the ex­treme right-wing AfD party.

The meet­ing came back to bite the DFB painfully in a man­ner that was un­likely had Ger­many put up a de­cent show­ing at the World Cup.

Ten days be­fore the fi­nals Low pro­duced a rare se­lec­tion sur­prise by drop­ping Leroy Sane from his squad. The 22-year-old had been voted Young Player of the Year in Eng­land for his pacy con­tri­bu­tion to Manch­ester City’s Premier League ti­tle suc­cess. But, as Toni Kroos stated later in hint­ing at a wider dis­func­tion within the squad, the young­ster had “at­ti­tude” is­sues.

Low be­lieved omit­ting Sane was es­sen­tial for dress­ing-room har­mony, but the op­tion of Sane’s pres­ence, at least on the sub­sti­tutes’ bench, was badly missed.

At the fi­nals, a 1-0 de­feat by Mex­ico

The Turk­ish me­dia as­sailed UEFA pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin over 2024 for reneg­ing on some un­spec­i­fied sug­ges­tion that he had promised to back Turkey in ex­change for sup­port in his 2016 pres­i­den­tial bid

and a 2-1 win over Swe­den – only achieved thanks to Kroos’ late strike – were com­pounded by a dis­as­trous 2-0 loss to South Korea. Ger­man chaos was il­lus­trated per­fectly by the sight of keeper Manuel Neuer – his own in­clu­sion a gam­ble af­ter nine months out in­jured – stranded up­field as Son He­ung-min ran free for the sec­ond goal.

It was the first time Ger­many had been elim­i­nated in the open­ing round of a World Cup since 1938. Ger­many now knew a lit­tle of how Brazil felt af­ter their 7-1 semi-fi­nal loss in Belo Hor­i­zonte four years ear­lier.

Low and his team were as dev­as­tated as the fans back home and the me­dia flew into the at­tack. For Bild, the Ger­man World Cup ef­fort had been a “nightmare”, while Die Welt felt that an “unimag­i­na­tive” team had suf­fered “the high­est de­gree of hu­mil­i­a­tion” and Der Spiegel said it was an “his­toric dis­grace.”

Hav­ing been handed the se­cu­rity of a con­tract ex­ten­sion ear­lier in the year, Low flew home with his team to ex­press his re­grets then hastily van­ished on hol­i­day.

There has been lit­tle respite in the Na­tions League. Sane was re­called but de­feats to Hol­land and France left Low’s side in dan­ger of be­ing rel­e­gated to the sec­ond tier of UEFA’s new com­pe­ti­tion.

The na­tional side’s con­tin­u­ing prob­lems have left DFB pres­i­dent Rein­hard Grindel ex­posed. Now 57, Grindel had been a mem­ber of the Bun­destag from 2000 un­til 2016, where he was a lead­ing mem­ber of chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s con­ser­va­tive Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union party. He then aban­doned his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer to take over at a DFB in des­per­ate need of a new lead­er­ship un­tainted by the 2006 World Cup scan­dal.

Happy mem­o­ries of the sun­shinestrewn 2006 fi­nals had been marred by rev­e­la­tions of a mys­te­ri­ous loan to the bid com­mit­tee from the late Robert Louis-Drey­fus, then owner of long-time DFB part­ner Adi­das. Bid and then or­gan­is­ing chair Franz Beck­en­bauer, DFB trea­surer and then pres­i­dent Theo Zwanziger and long-serv­ing gen­eral sec­re­tary Horst R Sch­midt had all been aware of the money which was even­tu­ally chan­nelled back via FIFA to Asian con­fed­er­a­tion supremo Mo­hamed Bin Ham­mam.

A botched at­tempt at a cover-up not only cost the trio their rep­u­ta­tions but landed the DFB in trou­ble with the tax au­thor­i­ties and prompted the res­ig­na­tion of pres­i­dent Wolf­gang Niers­bach.

Parachuted into power, Grindel pro­gressed rapidly into the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tees of UEFA and FIFA – where he soon clashed swords with pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino.

FIFA in­sid­ers merely tut­ted that this was in­evitable with a new­comer un­versed in the com­plex world of foot­ball pol­i­tics. But Grindel’s ini­tial naivety soon raised con­cerns back home.

Why had he handed Low a new con­tract so soon? Why had he per­mit­ted the World Cup HQ is­sue to fes­ter? What was his over­all re­spon­si­bil­ity in the World Cup fi­asco? How long be­fore he went back to pol­i­tics?

As if this were not enough, Ozil poured fuel on the flames a week af­ter the end of the World Cup, as the Arse­nal play­maker an­nounced his de­ci­sion to quit the na­tional team in a long an­gry state­ment – in English – in which he laid into Grindel for mak­ing him a “scape­goat for his in­com­pe­tence and in­abil­ity to do his job prop­erly”.

Ozil, who had scored 23 goals in 92 in­ter­na­tion­als, met Grindel im­me­di­ately af­ter the Er­do­gan in­ci­dent and tried to ex­plain his feel­ings as a child of Turk­ish im­mi­grants. Grindel, said Ozil, had treated him and his views in a “pa­tro­n­is­ing” man­ner and, in essence, had not lis­tened or un­der­stood.

The pic­ture, Ozil said, “had noth­ing to do with pol­i­tics or elec­tions – it was a ques­tion of re­spect for the high­est of­fice in my fam­ily’s coun­try”.

Ozil went on: “In the eyes of Grindel and his sup­port­ers I am Ger­man when we win but I am an im­mi­grant when we lose. This de­spite pay­ing taxes in Ger­many, do­nat­ing fa­cil­i­ties to Ger­man schools and win­ning the World Cup with Ger­many in 2014.

“I am still not ac­cepted into so­ci­ety. I am treated as be­ing dif­fer­ent. My friends Lukas Podol­ski and Miroslav Klose are never re­ferred to as Ger­man-Pol­ish, so why am I Ger­man-Turk­ish?”

Grindel, while ad­mit­ting he could have han­dled the Ozil af­fair bet­ter, de­vel­oped a broad back dur­ing his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer and put that per­sonal re­silience to good use in push­ing for­ward with Ger­many’s 2024 bid. He had no other choice – so he de­cided to turn it to an ad­van­tage, and Philipp Lahm – the coun­try’s 2014 World Cup-win­ning cap­tain – was a pop­u­lar and im­pres­sive choice as main bid am­bas­sador; a sort of anti-Ozil.

The DFB prob­a­bly worked harder in pro­mot­ing the 2024 bid pre­cisely be­cause of the World Cup fail­ure. It had some­thing to prove in terms of its own com­pe­tence and this was a chance to demon­strate a clean pair of hands by com­par­i­son with the old regime.

Grindel took the “new broom” im­age se­ri­ously, but for him the choice of host sta­dia came at a per­sonal cost.

Ger­many’s bid team had called on Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional to help de­fine a rank­ing of the 10 best sta­dia from a coun­try with more than enough venues for two bids. Con­tender cities had to sub­mit for­mal ten­ders and Hanover,

the cap­i­tal of Lower Sax­ony and where Grindel had been vice-pres­i­dent of the re­gional FA, was placed only 12th and missed the cut, along with Nurem­berg, Monchenglad­bach and Bre­men.

Grindel says: “Per­son­ally I was sorry for Hanover and some of my old friends asked me: ‘How can this be when you are pres­i­dent of the DFB?’ But af­ter ev­ery­thing which had hap­pened we were ab­so­lutely de­ter­mined to run a fair and open and trans­par­ent ten­der process.

“This was the re­sult. I think it proved ex­actly our point about a com­mit­ment to an hon­est process.

“We have had to learn from the past and fo­cus only on the facts. In my eyes it’s good for both UEFA and for the DFB to show the world that we can get such a tour­na­ment with only our ar­gu­ments and not by other things.

“The only cru­cial ques­tion is: what is the best de­ci­sion for foot­ball in Europe and for UEFA?

“UEFA needs, for all its ac­tiv­i­ties and es­pe­cially for the smaller and mid-sized fed­er­a­tions, a solid fi­nan­cial foun­da­tion, so the Euro is a very im­por­tant tour­na­ment.

“We can guar­an­tee sus­tain­able rev­enues, the max­i­mum pos­si­ble rev­enues from hos­pi­tal­ity and the sup­port of Ger­man busi­ness with a lot of global brands.

“We can sell 2.8mil­lion tick­ets so a lot of fans can at­tend the matches and, of course, we will also have very good fan zones. We can guar­an­tee po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity. So we be­lieve Ger­many is the right part­ner at the right time for UEFA and for all of foot­ball in Europe.”

And, of course, for Ger­man foot­ball, the DFB and Die Mannschaft.

Start...Mu­nich’s Al­lianz Arena is ex­pected to host the open­ing game of Euro 2024

con­tro­versy... re­cep tayyip er­do­gan (right) with ilkay Gun­do­gan (left) and Me­sut Ozil

Suc­cess...DFB del­e­gates with the euro tro­phy

Fi­nal...Ber­lin’s Olympias­ta­dion

Fly­ing high... Ger­many beat Turkey in the Euro vote

Boss...DFB pres­i­dent rein­hard Grindel re­turn...leroy Sane back in ac­tion for the na­tional side, against France in Septem­ber

Out...leroy Sane’s im­age is re­moved from the DFB’s foot­ball mu­seum be­fore the World cup in rus­sia

Out­cry...Ger­man pa­pers were scathing of the na­tional team af­ter the World Cup

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