All behind Rudi Riese (

The former DFB team boss Rudi Völler is now to lead the national team back to the top of the world as managing director.

Photo: dpa/Ronald Wittek

It’s been a few weeks since Rudi Völler agreed to pick up his honorary award at the German Football League (DFL) New Year’s reception, which he was unable to accept in the summer due to the death of his mother. At that time, Völler later revealed with a wink at a bar table that he could not have guessed anything about the dynamics. Suddenly, the 62-year-old, who is equally popular in official circles as in football, is said to cause a change of mood again. After Völler had first received warm words from the head of the league supervisory board, Hans-Joachim Watzke (“extremely authentic, extremely well informed”), he then made no effort to accept the upcoming appointment as the new managing director of the German Football Association (DFB ) as the successor to Oliver Bierhoff. ‘We’ll discuss again. Then we’ll see.« The well-known task force with DFB President Bernd Neuendorf met again on Thursday. The Bureau would then seal the formalities on January 27th.

On Tuesday, Völler emphasized in the Offenbach event location that he “didn’t grow up ten minutes from here”. And he talked about his first professional contract with Offenbacher Kickers, which once brought him 2,000 marks a month. It’s all in the past, but he’s not afraid of the future. Of course, the national team could have achieved more at the World Cup, yes, it should have, but: »We must not make ourselves too small. We are good enough to keep up with the really big ones.” Simple messages are enough for a “Rudi Riese”.

And so a down-to-earth popular figure is just the right person when the big football institutions have to reinvent themselves for a variety of reasons. Some (DFB) are suffering from the “disaster at the World Cup” (Völler), others (DFL) still have to find a successor to Donata Hopfen, who was a stranger at the beginning a year ago and has since been replaced. Oliver Kahn, who became vice world champion during Völler’s tenure, also spoke out clearly in favor of the former team boss. »Rudi is someone you always feel comfortable around. He’s someone who can make you feel good,” emphasized the FC Bayern CEO. If there are no objections from Munich either, then the enthronement in Frankfurt really only seems a matter of form, especially since time is running out until the home European Championship in 2024.

Incidentally, Watzke, currently by far the most powerful man in German football, does not believe that the third botched tournament in a row will have a negative impact on the Bundesliga, which will start again at the weekend. Then the Premier League wouldn’t have this status, said the 63-year-old with a sardonic dig at the English, who are still far less successful in this respect.

The boss of Borussia Dortmund then named five wishes for better times: In addition to a solidarity league and an improved relationship between DFL and DFB, the value-conservative Sauerland also demanded that “football clearly defines its role by concentrating on its core business”. Despite the socio-political responsibility, football should not “allow party-political appropriation,” warned Watzke. Was it a fine tip against the Qatar double passes between the SPD man and DFB President Bernd Neuendorf, the Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) who traveled to Doha and Olaf Scholz’s campaign advisor, Raphael Brinkert, who works for the association?

In society, politics and sport, Watzke generally wished for “fewer concerns and more energy” and called for “the home office mentality to be abandoned”. The Bundesliga should show some self-confidence. ‘The Premier League throws money around, but what’s the problem? We still have seven clubs in Europe. We are in a better sporting position than we were two or three years ago.«

The board members Axel Hellmann (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Oliver Leki (SC Freiburg), who were temporarily elected to the top of the DFL, indicated further focal points of their work in the coming months. Hellmann wants to find out »what we can do to strengthen the product«. According to him, the fact that investors are entering sub-areas to help with the in-house production, playout and marketing of individual media packages is obviously not off the table, after all the league needs money to compete internationally, “because we feel the pressure on the player and media market «. Only everything in its time, although according to the Frankfurt board spokesman, when it comes to sustainability, things could go faster, “football is still a bit backwards,” the 51-year-old admitted.

There had been no DFL New Year’s reception for three years. At that time, ex-league boss Christian Seifert had described the “Project Future” he and Bierhoff had developed to promote young talent as “the most important project in German football for the next ten to 15 years”. That’s hardly what the 400 guests in the former industrial area near a motorway feeder road were talking about anymore, with sometimes lively debates, because the problems have long since become more complex. And everyone knows: One Rudi Völler will not be enough to solve them all in the long term.



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