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    HomeSportsThe world of football is constantly on fire

    The world of football is constantly on fire

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    Saudi Arabia is buying the football, DAZN is raising prices again, Norway’s football president Lise Klaveness is warning of the destruction of the game, Hertha boss Kay Bernstein is proclaiming a revolution, the city’s neighbor 1. FC Union is moving to the Olympic Stadium and BVB is being dismantled about a transfer. The simultaneity of things in this summer break of 2023 is apt to believe that everything will soon be in flames. That may be an exaggeration, but something is happening this summer in which football has to face so many social issues that the actual game is being forgotten.

    Come with us on a journey into the crumbling world of football and let ntv.de answer some of these questions.

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Roberto Firmino: The world selection is now playing in the desert. What the hell is Saudi Arabia cooking up?

    They want nothing more than to become one of the most famous leagues in the world. They have succeeded well so far. The name of the kingdom comes up again and again. Because everyone is wondering. The concept of the Saudi Pro League is based on a very solid plan. By purchasing many players from the English Premier League, they immediately reach the top shelf and pepper the league with former world footballers, thereby attracting even more attention.

    Is Saudi Arabia the next China?

    Saudi Arabia beat Argentina at the World Cup in Qatar. Totally deserved. China was not at the World Cup. We should keep a closer eye on what’s happening down there. The first experts are talking – still behind closed doors – that one of the kingdom’s targets is FIFA. At some point it will move from Switzerland to the desert. The regular visits of President Gianni Infantino are used as an indication of this. He jets there regularly, sometimes in an official and sometimes in an unofficial capacity. He wasn’t seen that often in China.

    Is this still “sportswashing”?

    While we still talk about “sportswashing” here in Europe, the kingdom has long since said goodbye to it. They know that they are not celebrated everywhere. They know that they are constantly being made aware of the human rights situation in the country and the murder of government critic Jamal Kashoggi, especially from the West. It’s just that they don’t care about Europe. According to numerous experts, the investment in sport and the attention it brings outweighs the criticism. It is also a kind of imposed social contract with its own young population. She gets the heroes she demands and foregoes protests in return. Because the memories of the Arab Spring are still present in Saudi Arabia. This should be prevented. By all means, including those of sport.

    But the kingdom still runs the risk of losing even more international reputation as a result of this strategy.

    It is said that “soft disempowerment”, as it is called, is not perceived as a real danger there. Sport is part of a geopolitical strategy that, according to the ruling family’s wishes, will lead to even more power due to the turbulence in the world. The not uncontroversial economist Simon Chadwick says: “America is fighting for survival, Europe is as well and China has not yet recovered from the pandemic, Saudi Arabia wants to fill this gap.” So that could be the plan too.

    But wait a minute: doesn’t this have any impact on the Bundesliga anyway? They could actually benefit from the fact that the English league is being “attacked”, if you want to put it like that.

    In the short term this is correct. But in the long term, the Saudi Pro League’s efforts are also likely to have an impact on the Bundesliga’s already faltering internationalization plans. There was recently a vote against the entry of an investor. That would have brought the DFL, the 36 organized clubs in the first two leagues, around two billion euros, some of which should have been used to market the league abroad. That’s not happening now. Hans-Joachim Watzke then spoke about how competitiveness is not that important to some in the league. Of course it was about international visibility.

    But in Europe the Pro League from the desert won’t play a role!

    The world doesn’t just consist of Europe, nor does the world of football. In other markets, the question will arise in the future as to whether the game Darmstadt against Augsburg or Hoffenheim against Heidenheim is worth the investment or whether it would be better to broadcast the superstar league from Saudi Arabia, fueled by billions in oil.

    Nationally, the Bundesliga still enjoys prestige. This is the only reason why DAZN can increase the prices again. A complete subscription to the Bundesliga and Champions League will cost almost 45 euros per month.

    The question arises as to who else in Germany wants to see it at this price. At the same time, the league is entering the next round of negotiations. The current contracts expire in summer 2025. The TV rights will soon be renegotiated by a new DFL leadership. The contracts concluded under Christian Seifert totaling 4.4 billion euros for four years, in the midst of the corona pandemic, were a great success. The next few months will show whether this can be repeated. That’s not certain.

    Hertha President Kay Bernstein also mentioned this in an interview with ntv.de. The 42-year-old also proclaimed a revolution in German football. What were the reactions to that?

    Among other things, it was about the question of whether that particular amber is actually suitable for proclaiming a revolution. Because he heads a club that has lost 374 million euros in thin air and has recently found itself in the second division. While the big clubs were heard to be interested, they did not officially comment on it. But nothing came from the clubs that might be interested in a revolution. It almost seemed as if people didn’t want to deal with this topic anymore.

    Because all clubs are always busy with themselves anyway.

    That may be part of the explanation.

    Let’s take a look at the league. Union Berlin plays the Champions League games in the unpopular Berlin Olympic Stadium. The fans aren’t all thrilled.

    Because it would have been the crowning achievement for the Alte Försterei, which will soon no longer be as it is now, and the Union fans if they had played there in their homeland. Because the Alte Försterei can scare even Manchester City. But it’s different: Union is the new number one in Berlin. The club wants to take all fans with them. It is also a question of finances. A sold-out stadium in the Westend brings more money after deducting all costs. We have to assume that the Eiserne will not be a permanent guest in the premier class unless they really decide to leave the Alte Försterei forever. Then they could make the Olympic Stadium their new home in front of perhaps full ranks in the Bundesliga. In doing so, they would awaken the Olympic Stadium and give the capital a new top club. Hertha impressively squandered this chance. But Union has now reached a junction: Do they also want to open themselves up to new fans or present their club to young people during the boom, without any shortage of tickets due to the circumstances?

    That sounds like a fantasy. But maybe even national coach Hansi Flick sees a player for the DFB team one day. Union Berlin has not yet appeared there.

    That is correct. It is unlikely to be the reason for the DFB’s current crisis. After a furious start against lower-class opponents, the former Bayern coach soon picked up the football of Joachim Löw’s last days. A year before the European Championships in our own country, the euphoria is still very limited. According to a recently published study by the renowned fan researcher Harald Lange, the anticipation is kept within manageable limits. Almost all those surveyed spoke of a loss of identification with the national team, and Rudi Völler’s comeback couldn’t change that.

    Rudi Völler was surprisingly persuaded to return from retirement by a task force led by BVB boss and DFB deputy Hans-Joachim Watzke. One of Watzke’s several unfortunate decisions recently. The club pushed through the transfer of Wolfsburg’s Felix Nmecha against all resistance. The fans accuse the 22-year-old of homophobia and transphobia.

    They justify this primarily with two postings on the Internet. The player is said to have rejected these allegations in a direct conversation, the club signed him and thus went way out of the window. But the protests, not just from the queer community, continue. On the right, however, there is applause. BVB hopes that people will change. Some fans don’t believe it. Everything is a struggle these days. And there are hardly any viable paths left. It’s complicated.

    Like everything you describe here.

    Because the world of football is constantly on fire. Because this game still touches so many people that all these topics are debated in large groups because they not only affect football, but also always take up and advance the discussions in society.

    A game that must not fall into the wrong hands, said Lise Klaveness, the president of the Norwegian association, in an interview with ntv.de.

    One can fully agree with this. But the problem is that we don’t even know exactly what these wrong hands are and whether we are allowed to decide that.

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