The DFB, Adidas and Nike: criticism and sad reality

Last Updated: 22.03.2024 12: 52

Politicians unanimously rant about the DFB’s departure from Adidas, writing of Tradition, home and Commerce – and thereby misjudge the dramatic situation of the DFB.

On the surface, it is only a matter of which World Group will soon produce the jerseys of the national team and work commercially with the German Football Association (DFB). But many people in Germany look very emotionally at the Farewell of the DFB from the German manufacturer Adidas the American company Nike.

Suddenly, high-ranking politicians use words that are otherwise more likely to fall into other political camps. Robert Habeck (the Greens) “a little more local patriotism” Adidas and Black-Red-Gold are desirable “a piece of German identity”. And Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) wrote of a wrong decision in which “Commerce destroys a Tradition and a piece of Homeland”.

Criticism from the left to the CSU

Rarely does politics express itself so unanimously across parties. Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (Die Linke) and CSU member of the Bundestag Dorothee Bär also criticized the DFB. The CDU chairman Friedrich Merz called the decision “unpatriotic”.

And Hesse’s prime minister Boris Rhein (CDU) said: “The world champion wears Adidas, not some American Fantasy brand. (…) I can’t imagine that the DFB can hold out in the end.”

DFB: “by far the best economic Offer”

With so much Pathos, a cool look at the situation seems sensible. The DFB, according to its own information on Thursday, announced the “by far the best economic offer” suppose.

And he referred directly to his function as an umbrella organization in the press release. “With the 7.3 million people it represents, the DFB is a central social institution and has a unique selling point among sports associations: it supports its members financially and is not financed by them.”, Treasurer Stephan Grunwald is quoted.

This helps to preserve football as a popular sport and to be able to offer Club memberships at comparatively cheap contributions, Grunwald said. “We are grateful to be able to look back into an economically stable future due to Nike’s commitment as an association.”

The deepest financial crisis of Verbandsgeschichte

Economically stable – the DFB is certainly not currently, rather it is in the deepest financial crisis in its history. There are several reasons for this, starting with the sporting failure of the senior national team. Due to the weak results at the 2018 World Cup, EURO 2020 and the 2022 World Cup, the DFB collected only 27 million euros in bonuses during this period – this is less than half of the revenue from the three major tournaments between 2010 and 2014.

“The Association is essentially dependent on the sporting success and the economic conditions of the senior national team”, Grunwald told WDR magazine Sport inside in October 2023. For example, revenues from sponsorship and marketing around the Internationals in 2021 accounted for half of the DFB’s total turnover of 400 million euros.

Possible Tax evasion

In addition, two lawsuits have forced the DFB to postpone funds in the double-digit million range. One is about possibly incorrectly taxed income from gang advertising, the other is about the ominous payment of 6.7 million euros before the 2006 home World Cup.

The DFB dismissed them as operational expenditure, naccording to the prosecutor, there was no consideration. In both processes, there is also a temporary withdrawal of charitable status, which would result in additional high costs for the DFB.

“In the best case scenario, if the DFB decides both procedures for itself, it could expect to recover about 50 million euros of taxes paid, including interest”, Lars Leuschner, an expert in club law at the University of Osnabrück, told Sport inside. “In the worst case, he will have to write off this sum for good.”

DFB Campus twice as expensive

In addition, there is the new DFB campus in Frankfurt, the extensive Association headquarters with offices, meeting rooms and Training Grounds. Both the construction costs (180 million euros) and the maintenance costs (80 million euros per year) have become twice as expensive as planned.

“Today, you would no longer build the Campus as we have it here”, Grunwald said. He has only been DFB Treasurer since March 2022 and now has to work with the decisions of his predecessors.

More than 100 million euros from Nike?

Against this background, take another look at the new equipment contract: according to the “Handelsblatt” Nike is supposed to pay more than 100 million euros per year, Adidas has so far received 50 million euros per year – although there is no information on how high the current bid was. The DFB did not want to comment on these figures or on criticism from politics when asked by Sportschau.

But even if the difference between the Group bids was only a few million euros-should the DFB have given up additional income in view of its financial situation – out of Tradition and “location patriotism”?

Does grassroots sport benefit?

As Minister of health, Karl Lauterbach likes to talk about the importance of Sport for Health. If the DFB were to live up to its announcement that the revenues from the equipment contract would also benefit popular sports, Lauterbach would actually have to react benevolently.

By the way, no one has ever asked why the so successful German group Adidas apparently did not submit a competitive offer – despite the historical crisis of the DFB, which had held its own in competitive offers for more than 70 years.

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