December 26, 2012

CENTRALIZATION AND SUBMISSION TO CENTRAL AUTHORITY BEING THEIR SINGULAR STRENGTH:

A German Resurgence, Feet First (NICHOLAS KULISH, 12/25/12, NY Times)

In a little more than a decade, Germany has invested nearly $1 billion in its youth programs, with academies run by professional teams and training centers overseen by the national soccer association, the Deutscher Fussball Bund, or D.F.B. The programs testify to the long-term strategic thinking and to the considerable resources that have driven Germany's rise to renewed prominence in -- and at the expense of -- a struggling continent.

"Once the Germans have decided to transform, to reform, they do it," Emmanuel Hembert, an expert in the business of soccer at the consultancy A. T. Kearney, said. "It has been the case for the labor rules; it's the case for football where they changed their model; and it's had a very positive impact."

The products of the new factory system were exhibited in striking fashion this season. Germany sent seven professional teams into European competitions, and for the first time all seven advanced to the knockout rounds beginning in the new year.

The three German teams in the hypercompetitive Champions League -- Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke -- all won their groups. Less noticeable but equally important is the depth and parity in the German game. Teams from the midsize cities Leverkusen (pop. 160,000) and Mönchengladbach (pop. 260,000) were among the four that advanced in the slightly less prestigious Europa League.

The German league has seized the advantage while many clubs in crisis-stricken, austerity-squeezed countries like Spain and Italy have been unable to deal with deep debts and older stadiums in poor condition. The Spanish team Valencia started the season with an unfinished stadium and no sponsor for the team's jersey, a standard moneymaker in European sports.

The German teams "are preparing for an era of European dominance," Hembert said. "The time of the German league is coming."

Where England's soccer analysts bemoan a British league brimming with foreign mercenaries but crowding out local players, German teams have improved with a rising share of domestic players. At the same time, they have overcome stereotypes of ugly but effective play and today are more likely to be compared by opponents to finely tuned Porsches than grinding Panzer tanks.
Posted by at December 26, 2012 12:52 PM
  
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