In Leipzig, an alternative association is fighting for attention and trying to establish itself as a counter-model to the DFB. It doesn’t stand a chance.
"Football mafia DFB!" resounded from the stands at the match between Union Berlin and Werder Bremen Photo: dpa
In Berlin, in that stadium with the droll name "An der Alten Forsterei", it was again totally atmospheric on Saturday. Union played against Werder Bremen. It was always especially loud when referee Tobias Welz used the video evidence. "Football mafia DFB!" was then chanted from the stands.
This hate chant was even intoned in a situation at the end of which a penalty was given to Union. People just don’t like him, the DFB. Last season, the fans even called for a war against the DFB. But it’s hard to defeat – no matter how fervently the open song battle is waged.
There is simply no alternative. Or is there? In Leipzig, an alternative association is fighting for attention. "The organization is called the Confederation of Football. With its 35 members, no one is likely to call it serious competition for the DFB anytime soon. And there shouldn’t be any such competition.
The DFB is a monopolist and has formulated its rules in such a way that it will remain so as far as possible. A club that organizes a match and fails to have it approved by a DFB association must expect sports court proceedings. This is not even a matter of an organized match. Anyone who plays a friendly match without obtaining permission from the association is liable to sporting penalties.
Competition not only on the pitch
This is an intolerable state of affairs for the Confederation of Football. For the Confederation, competition should be allowed not only on the field of play, but also between associations. A decision by the EU Commission in December 2017 proves the Confederation right. At the time, it was about speed skating. Two Dutch stars of the scene wanted to compete in a well-funded fun event in Dubai, which was to be organized by a Korean theme park chain. The International Speed Skating Union ISU threatened the two with bans from participating in the Olympics.
Athletes were even threatened with lifetime bans if they dared to compete in a competition that would not be held under the ISU umbrella. These regulations, the EU Commission said at the time, hindered competition, also led to the ISU’s business interests being protected. The verdict was clear: Not so!
But anyone who now believed that the decision would lead to athletes joining forces to break up the monopoly position of the major federations was proved wrong. The real power of those who have always determined everything in their sports is too great. The Confederation of Football is a small, but very fine exception. It will probably never become a major alternative.