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German Football Association: In a sport-political balancing act (nd-aktuell.de)

100 days in office: DFB President Bernd Neuendorf

Photo: imago/Ulmer

Bernd Neuendorf has tackled a colorful bouquet of topics before. The new President of the German Football Association (DFB) is familiar with closely intertwined fields of work from his work as State Secretary in North Rhine-Westphalia with responsibility for family, children, youth, culture and sport. In this respect, the Düren native’s challenging task at the crisis-ridden association seems like déjà vu. His plan after the first 100 working days: “We no longer want to be the ones who are being driven, we want to be a driving force.”

In fact, a cautious mood of optimism can be felt at the DFB, also due to the move to the new academy. Neuendorf would speak of a “certain stability” but not of calm. Because a “productive unrest” is wanted in order to bring new ideas through. It is a serious thought to finally mothball the controversial term “The Team” for the senior men’s national team. Most recently, the powerful DFL supervisory board chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke suggested abolition.

Neuendorf has now announced that a “representative survey” will be commissioned in the near future. He is not a friend of a “never-ending story,” said the 60-year-old: “Then we have a decision and can concentrate on the sport.” If the DFB committees follow the suggestion, the DFB selection is So soon a term was released that seemed more popular abroad than in Germany. Otherwise, the SPD man sees one focus of his work in better networking German football in politics.

He will therefore spend the rest of the week in Berlin to discuss important issues with the German Olympic Sports Confederation. It’s also about the high energy costs, which can threaten the existence of some of the almost 25,000 football clubs. Neuendorf expressly praised the government for opposing the project of a European Super League, which in his view would be “a frontal attack on the European sports model”. A lawsuit will soon be dealt with before the European Court of Justice.

The Qatar issue requires a sports-political balancing act, which Neuendorf can sometimes catch on the wrong foot. Neuendorf allegedly had no knowledge of the sports show revelations about the base camp of the DFB selection, which was built in the north of the emirate and booked through Fifa, until the publication. Secretary General Heike Ullrich, who is in contact with trade unions and human rights organizations, regularly flies to Qatar to discuss these issues. Neuendorf announced: “Regardless of the district, we as the DFB will initiate our own examination procedure if we work with service providers to protect employee rights.”

Ultimately, however, the situation remains tricky, and so Bernd Neuendorf cannot share Fifa President Gianni Infantino’s euphoria for the upcoming desert World Cup. The whole circumstances are questionable. “It’s an event where you say whether it will be the biggest and greatest event of all time – I would put a question mark behind it.” But because Neuendorf is supposed to take Peter Peters’ place on the Fifa Council, he doesn’t want one Risk a rift with the Swiss power broker. »I register that in one place or another there is criticism of Infantino. It is controversial in parts. It’s important to get in touch with him personally.” Making a prejudice without entering into a dialogue is “not honest and not fair”. Neuendorf wants to work internationally to ensure that at least the European teams “agree a position and show the flag”.

The latest membership statistics are positive for the largest sports association. 7.17 million members mean a new high, of which 2.21 million actively play football. A proud increase of 21.5 percent and the highest value in four years. However, the numbers among women and girls are declining to an alarming degree, with just 187,000 players still registered. “We have problems there. The numbers are alarming,” admitted Neuendorf, who also had no patent recipe ready for attracting more girls with a migration background. In the short term, the DFB boss is hoping for an impetus from the women’s European Championship in England and in the long term from the application with the Netherlands and Belgium for the women’s World Cup in 2027. German women’s football in particular urgently needs to become more colorful if it wants to remain sustainable.

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