The Bundesliga is back and the Frauen Bundesliga and 3. Liga are set to follow soon. Amateur footballers are also allowed to train in small groups again and hopefully the easing of restrictions will continue following the example of professional football. “Football is fumbling its way, like the rest of society, back towards a new norm. The effects of the corona pandemic will impact us for many years to come. As a result, now is not the time to wait and see what will happen, but rather to learn from this crisis and to shape the unique footballing structure in Germany for the future,” said DFB president Fritz Keller.
Ultimately, recent weeks have made it even more clear that such a crisis can only be contained when unity, concern, solidarity and trust are at the forefront. “Values, that are still ever present in football,” said Fritz Keller. “It has become even more aparent that football is so much more than a 90-minute game on the pitch. It is about millions of fans, participants, and volunteers. It enriches our society.”
Football as a whole, including at the very top, must reflect even more and return to the fundamental values that are lived by in Germany’s 25,000 clubs and by their seven million members. The current crisis has exposed problems that were previously overshadowed by earth-shattering records. Social discussions on increased commercialisation, salaries and transfer fees, as well as some of the procedures in football associations regarding the awarding of World Cups, have contributed to many feeling out of touch with the game.
Keller said, “It’s not about pointing fingers at others. We need to be self-critical and ask ourselves, as well as considering the view from the outside, what the we at the DFB have done wrong in the past and learn from our mistakes. The crisis offers us a chance to look forward and set football up for future generations.” Because of that, the DFB president has developed a five-point plan for more sustainability in football, as a basis for work and discussion for all interest groups to actively contribute to helping re-shape the game.”
Keller: “In 2024, we will be hosting the European Championship in our country. That’s a fixed event that we can look forward to with hope. We made many promises with our application: the tournament should be a beacon for sustainability. For me, that applies to our entire association and for the future of football.”
The DFB President’s five-point plan:
- Use DFB network for preventative tests
We’re fighting against a dangerous virus. As football is firmly anchored in society, I believe it has a great responsibility to use it’s positive power to contribute: preventative and large-scale tests could help to contain the virus in a targeted manner until a vaccine has been developed. By doing that we can take further steps towards easing restrictions without risking a second wave of infections. Should politics and science choose to follow a path of preventative testing, football will make its contribution and take these measures: with its combined power, popularity, logistics and infrastructure, and above all with its seven million members and 25,000 clubs. I have discussed relevant ideas with political representatives.
- Salary caps and sensible regulation of football
We need to bring professional football closer to the people. We need to think about a salary cap. I will speak with my colleagues, both domestically and internationally, as well as UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, to discuss a reform of Financial Fair Play. In the end, regulation must conform to European law and also apply to Great Britain.
Agent commissions and huge transfer fees are increasingly frustrating society and alienating people from our sport. The whole of football is called upon to finally give satisfactory answers to these problems.
- Thinking of future generations: We need new measures for success
The diverse issues of sustainability – on an economic, ecological and social level – need to be given a higher priority than previously in the football world. Good business leadership means, in particular, thinking long term and not just from season to season. Together with our member organisations and the professional clubs, we need to develop binding sustainability standards, that are also integrated into the licencing process. Together with the cities, municipalities and our partners, we want to support the EU initiative for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. EURO 2024 in Germany will be an important milestone for that.
- Make football future-proof – increase voluntary efforts
I want to provide more support to those who day-in, day-out provide voluntary work in our clubs. We need to improve the conditions under which these heroes invest much of their free time. We also need to ensure that the infrastructure of football and the sport is secure in the future and that also involves helping clubs build reserves.
- Wide dialogue on a level with all interested groups
I want to discuss all these measure with the people that are affected by them. Furthermore, I will start a broad dialogue for more sustainability in football. I will invite everyone who loves football, who carries any responsibility or is affected – our associations, clubs, fans, partners, NGOs, politicians, researches and businesses – to actively take part in this dialogue on an even playing field. Improving fan dialogue, as part of this dialogue offensive, is of personal importance to me.