The prospect of an all-German Champions League final provided material for Germany’s tabloid Bild-Zeitung for some crude reporting. Under the headline ‘We Are The Champions’ the sub-heading reads: but not every one likes it. In fact, level-minded Germans are aware of the fact that Germany’s image throughout this current crisis in Europe has suffered severely, yet the article is a reminder of some dark thoughts from the not so distant past.
Politics and Games
The link between politics and football in Germany has some negative historical connotations. Despite the denials of Pecco Bauwens et. al after
1945 that football was free of any involvement with national socialism, it turned out that Bauwens actively sought to get the DFB close with the NSDAP’s sport organization, Deutscher Reichsausschuss für Leibesübungen -DRA- (German union for physical education), later the DFB was dissolved and all members fluctuated to the DRA.
The victory in Berne 1954 was anything but political although politicians tried vehemently to keep the two spheres apart and confirmed that many developments since 1933 have not been stopped, nor have never been disrupted. The East of Germany, the GDR under a communist government saw sport as a political means to continue the power struggle with the West. The East German sporting miracle was the result, albeit with terrible consequences for the athletes as has been testified after the end of the Cold War in 1990.
Praise for Germany
While exclusively all German daily newspapers have praised the German model of economy, i.e. focussing on exporting quality products and labour cheaply and have become advocates for the German government to impose a policy of austerity on other European countries and at the same time threaten with harsh sanctions if those policies are not adhered to, Bild-Zeitung has for the first time made such a blunt connection between Sport and Politics in their article, dated May 3, 2013.
The opening paragraph runs as follows: economic leader in Europe, a teacher when it comes to reforms, careerist on saving and on top of that 2 German clubs in the Champions League Final, finishing with the question, ‘has Germany become too big for Europe?’ The authors, N. Blohme and J.W. Schäfer seem to be surprised that not every one likes the German policy of austerity and footballing success. In Angela Merkel’s eyes, Germany has become like the United States, an unpopular nation because of its success and strength.
The German strong points for Blome and Schäfer are the booming economy and the job situation. There are, according to them 42m employees in Germany, more over some areas experience a shortage of qualified employees. What they don’t say is that more than 5m people in Germany are either unemployed or in part-time positions which require further state support. These jobs are not insured, i.e. these employees have no health insurances nor are they contributing to their pension fund. It means the German industry is now creating one or more generations of elderly people living in poverty.
The authors continue by stating Germany’s export power, ignoring the fact that this is one of the major causes for this current European crisis. Germany exports more than any other country. At the same time, Merkel and her cronies urge other countries to produce cheaper products and labour in order to export more products. However, these countries in question, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus et. al. will never have a chance to recover if the money supply is cut off as well as Germany continues to oppress the rest of Europe with its dictatorial approach of austerity.
And of course, there is the all-German Champions League Final at Wembley on May 25. Another point to boast in with the economic success. The politics of Angela Merkel can be described as ‘Am Deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen’ which means as much as the German way is the route to success and prosperity.
It is understandable that German media got excited by the prospect of a German final at Wembley in roughly a fortnight. However, this is no reason to link football with politics as Blome and Schäfer have done. This is simply ‘Gossenjournalismus’ in the best tradition of Bild. It is ignorant of some vital truths and speaks of a blindness in some quarters of German media that is alarming.
- How not to write about football (donotmentionthewar.wordpress.com)
- German fairytale in the Champions League: not the same old spiel (guardian.co.uk)
- Picture: Bild publish a photo of a Borussia Dortmund towel draped over a seat at Wembley (101greatgoals.com)
- We are the Champions (Bild)