Frankfurt (AP) - Hardly any mood, fewer spectators: Toni Kroos and Co. get these days, despite already perfect European Championship qualification, the reluctance and criticism of the fans clearly felt.
In the recent home games of the German national football team against Argentina (2: 2) and Belarus (4: 0) there were big gaps in the stands. The active fan scene of the Bundesliga clubs continue to reject international matches. And also the price policy of the federation with the ticket and jersey sale leads to complaints. "The commercialization screw in professional football is clearly over the top," said Rainer Vollmer of the interest group of the fan organizations "Our curve". That includes the national team.
"The DFB is as unpopular as anything else, which also affects the national team," said Ina Kobuschinski, chairwoman of the Eintracht Frankfurt fan club Association. The Commerzbank Arena, where the Eintracht fans in the Bundesliga and Europa League regularly provide for a top atmosphere, is on Tuesday the venue for the European Championship qualifier of the DFB selection against Northern Ireland (20.45 / RTL). "The DFB has moved so far away from the fan scene, that's incredible," said Kobuschinski.
Joachim Löw does not see the relationship between the fans and his team cool, even though only 33,164 fans in Mönchengladbach recently wanted to see their 4-0 win over Belarus live in Borussia-Park. "It's like always the last years", said the national coach of the German press agency. In his time at the DFB, which began in 2004 as an assistant and was continued as a national coach from 2006, there were always discussions about a distance between team and supporters, noted Löw.
The reasons for the new debate are complex. The active fan scene is no longer bothered with the national team and also on merchandising campaigns such as the brand "The Team", which was presented in 2015, led fan representative Kobuschinski. The Supporters Club Borussia Mönchengladbach referred to on his homepage on the forced membership in the so-called Fan Club national team to get tickets. That would spoil long-time fans.
The Fan Club national team was founded in 2003 and now has more than 50,000 members. 30 euros per year for a single membership, 22.50 euros for a group membership are due. Only through the DFB-based organization will be awarded tickets for away games, also to minimize the risk of riots by German fan-chasers as in the games in Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland a few years ago.
For home games Fan Club members get tickets at reduced prices from 15 euros. The normal tickets for the upcoming Northern Ireland game are 25 euros (concessions 18 euros) to 80 euros (concessions 60 euros).
"Many can no longer afford to visit the stadium - let alone buy a jersey," complained Vollmer. Professional football is no longer a "sport for everyone". The new EM jerseys are distributed for up to € 129.95. The fan version is available for 89.95 euros, children's equipment is cheaper. For the match on Tuesday, the DFB has sold at least 8000 cards for 10 euros. So far, 40,000 of the 49,000 available tickets have been sold.
In 2008, an average of 53,280 fans came to the home games. In 2013, the 50,000 mark last time cracked, but the number is also significantly dependent on the size of the stadiums in which played the DFB team. In 2017 there were 44,190 fans per game, this year so far 36,362. Löw does not see the numbers as an indicator of a declining interest in the national team. "We talked about it in 2009, and in 2013, there were exactly the same topics, which picks up again when a tournament is next summer." Then "all of Germany will be back behind the team," emphasized Löw.
Even veteran Toni Kroos has perceived the decline in mood "not so extreme". One reason for the dissatisfaction of the fans sees the 2014 World Cup still in the World Cup debacle of the previous year with the end in the group stage: "You have to fight back as a team, because we are right in the middle." The mood at international matches seemed strangely muted recently. A brass band in the stands and a converted London double-decker bus as a fan-start point can not replace the real fan support.
DFB director Bierhoff countered the clearly felt love withdrawal: "We have made analyzes in international comparison, we are ahead," said Bierhoff and referred to a stadium capacity at home games of over 90 percent. "Since most Bundesliga clubs would be satisfied with it."
"It has to be seen that football remains what it has always been, and popular sport for all," international Leon Goretzka had recently warned. Bierhoff sees at least some alarm signals: "We have to be aware in football that the times will not be easier." You have to do more to keep the whole level. "The course is still not fan friendly," said Vollmer of "Our curve": "So you get only the audience in the stadium, which comes by - once afforded such a game."
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