Gbigger is always possible, especially in football. And so at Manchester City one would only smile wearily at what will open in Frankfurt this Thursday. The training center at the English champions has 17 football pitches, and Pep Guardiola had all eight types of pitch commonly used in the Premier League laid out.
At least that’s what they told the German Football Association during a tour of the new DFB campus a few weeks ago. Things are comparatively modest in Frankfurt. Three and a half courts have been created on the site of the former racecourse, one with a hybrid surface, two with grass, half for goalkeepers.
But they also thought big, not only because of the hall with the FIFA pitch of 105 by 68 meters, the only one of its kind in Europe, as the DFB proudly says. Not only does it now have its own places for the first time in 122 years of association history, the previous headquarters in the Otto-Fleck-Schneise was purely an administrative building, but everything else is under one roof.
The administration, the academy, which – although often equated – is only part of the larger whole called the DFB campus. Above all, however, there is plenty of room for what everything is supposed to be about. “Sport shapes the house,” says academy director Tobias Haupt. The best way to experience this is when you come out of the athletes’ wing with its 30 double and three single rooms and step outside through an airy foyer and, after a few steps, you are in seat number one.
Training with a view of the skyline, a 15-hectare plot of land, close to the city centre, the motorway and the airport – that’s something to be proud of. The fact that the project, for which Oliver Bierhoff gave the initial impetus in 2007, will cost the financially strained association more expensively than the 150 million approved by the DFB Bundestag is another matter.
Is there a new spirit here?
Anyone who only spoke of the academy during the project and construction phase was quickly corrected: it was said that the new DFB was being built here. That, one might add, is also necessary given the federation’s self-destructive leadership crisis, which has left the old headquarters atmospherically contaminated.
Architecturally, the Otto-Fleck-Schneise in the city forest was by no means a stuffy administration bunker, but quite friendly, not overly representative, a model of solidity, but also somehow rooted in the culture of the clubhouse: In the Zirbelstube in the basement, the in-house pub, so to speak, top performances of a non-sporting nature are said to have taken place.
There is no room for such excesses in the new campus, it rather radiates the unconditional desire to leave everything even dusty behind and instead jump into the working world of the 21st century. For example in the academy wing, where Oliver Bierhoff’s management is supposed to bring together the threads of all future topics in football, from the newly reformed coach education to expertise and management, medicine or nutrition to special technical and tactical questions. We are no longer talking about jobs, but about “working environments”, and they should be open and permeable.
Even the few personal offices, such as Bierhoff’s glass one, are said to be open to others. The shades of green in the furniture make you think of a lawn, but all in all it looks more like a creative industry playground than a mere kick. The magazine shelf here is called “Knowboard” (with “food for thought for in between”), there are “parking lots for ideas” and also the obligatory “candy bar”.