»It’s about survival« (daily newspaper young world)

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»Out of necessity, you have to think about how to reshape football.« Empty stadium before the »ghost game« between Borussia Mönchengladbach and 1. FC Köln (11.3.2020)

Some fan forums read that the season definitely has to be stopped. Do you think there could be a permanent withdrawal from football? That we will land again in the 80s? There were 15,000, 18,000 people in the stadium.

I am divided. There are many people who accept professional football as it has developed. We love football, somehow. He has grown dear to us. Of course, you try to do everything you can to make it the way it may have been. I regularly speak to people who say: man, we want to take care of our home club again. They go down to the district league and eat their sausages there, and it is cozy there and there is no stress, and that is football in its purest form – as we knew it as children or as we knew it from those who used to be in it played in a small club.

However, the reality is simply that football is the number one sport in the world, and I cannot imagine that it will no longer exist in this way. But of course it would be nice if you could turn the adjusting screws a bit.

Where would the screws be?

These sums would have to be reduced. And the clubs that are ultimately responsible for the whole system would have to change their concept fundamentally. You would have to build up reserves. That may be what the crisis could entail. They should say to themselves: man, we lived from hand to mouth. They have had insane sums of money, and in the best case a club has not only invested in legs, but occasionally also in stones.

But that does not generate a return, Mr. von Thurn and Taxis.

Yes, there is no return. Yes. You are right there. I don’t know about you, but it makes me speechless to say: Okay, we’ll continue to play with eight to ten clubs. The others live from hand to mouth. How do you see that?

Yes, they do because they are forced to keep up. And this scenario is really threatening.

The scenario threatens. I don’t want to speak of the third division or even lower classes. It is clear: there will be a number of clubs that cannot live on for months. That’s why we now come to the ghost games. I can understand very well that one says: We have to end the season somehow under all circumstances, and in order to make ends meet, we need ghost games. The different scenarios that you design – tournament mode and so on – are basically absurd. But it shows how urgent it is to keep things going.

I think there are many starting points for criticism as far as the football business is concerned. Many say the players are overwhelmed. There are far too many games. And there is too much money. And many viewers are deeply frustrated. Ultimately, if you weren’t very knowledgeable, you could say it’s apocalyptic. It is ruining, as you just said. On the other hand, I don’t want to imagine that. Because soccer is so strong and because there are so many people who love soccer in a mysterious way, so I think that maybe, in a different form – but I can’t offer you a solution – , will go on. However, a point has been reached at which one really says: Yes, well, uh … It is high time that we started to think about how we will do this in the future.

Perplexity is a good opportunity to change your mind.

Yes! I believe that very well. However, if you hear the soccer bosses talking at the moment – they come along like the politicians. They are all in a crisis tunnel. It’s about survival. Out of necessity, you have to consider how to redesign football. If you look at Infantino (FIFA President, jW) sees – what else he wants! And then of course the question arises: Will Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund play in a superleague at some point? I think that will go in that direction. The background talks have been going on for a long time. Even if Rummenigge and Watzke (chief executive officer Bayern Munich and managing director Borussia Dortmund, jW) a little bit outside, I could imagine that we will have this super league in the foreseeable future.

That would be monopoly football.

Then the football would be finally removed from any traction. But that will also somehow continue. That is relatively difficult to imagine, but we have ridden ourselves into this situation with these sums. And I tell you very frankly: In the end, the television industry has to take responsibility for this. I have it with me Sky noticed. I was at the 1971 Bavarian radio started, and at that time the ARD Complicated negotiations with Wilhelm Neudecker, the president of FC Bayern, about whether you could broadcast a European Cup game for 200,000 Deutschmarks. And I saw how all the sums went up as a result. Even then we asked ourselves: How is that going to continue? And now (laughs) we are where we are.

But you see, Mr. Roth: In the end, football can only be tamed by a virus.

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