Before international matches – “Typically German”? DFB is looking for its identity and wants to find it with cuckoo clocks and kebabs GuardianMagazines

Before international matches: “Typically German”? DFB is looking for its identity and wants to find it with cuckoo clocks and kebabs

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The return of Toni Kroos, a discussion about a pink jersey, cheeky advertising clips and kebab for the lunch break. The DFB is looking for an identity and reinventing itself. “Typically German” is a matter of definition.

From the boxes in the entrance, 99 balloons fly musically towards the visitor, a garden gnome smiles and it smells of freshly baked pretzels. A cool “Moin” as a welcome. Welcome to Germany, welcome to DFB-Campus.

To start the international match week with the two test matches against France and the Netherlands The DFB invites you to the German football headquarters for a “typically German day”. Small yellow Reclam books with German classics by Goethe, Schiller and Büchner lie on tables. A grotesque scene awaits you in the entrance area: a living room in the 70s style. Original tube television in a tasteful free-standing model, crocheted placemats on the table, a magnificent cuckoo clock on the wall, an elegant oriental rug on the floor – just like grandma’s.

What is typical German”?

And “typically German”… right? But what does “typically German” actually mean? The German national team is trying to get to the bottom of this question these days. In the video campaign to launch the new jerseys, the association itself raised the question together with supplier Adidas and played with clichés in a humorous and self-deprecating way. Cars, late night snacks and garden gnomes, of course. Penalties and goalkeepers, sure. Bratwurst, brown bread, potatoes, beer – and kebab, of course.

“Kebab with spicy?” is also the motto at the food truck in front of the campus at lunchtime. “Tipik alman” is whoever says no, captain Ilkay Gündogan joked in the viral video. Doner kebab with red cabbage and onions, which is also “typically German” these days; Not just the schnitzel with sauerkraut.

The question becomes the motto of an association that is looking for a lost identity. For generations, German football stood for team strength, unity and “typically German” virtues – fight and commitment.

Kroos becomes a key figure in the search for identity

“It used to be typically German when you were successful,” said old/new national player Toni Kroos at the first press conference on Tuesday at the request of FOCUS online. “We would like to get back there,” he assured, citing virtues such as willingness to run and aggressiveness. Nowadays, such qualities are a “basic requirement” in every professional football team. Differentiating yourself from other teams is no longer so easy. “This is important as a basis for then developing other solutions. You shouldn’t have to think about anything else,” said Kroos after the first training session.

He himself becomes a key figure in the search for identity. National coach Julian Nagelsmann brought him back to the national team. He resigned there after the disappointing European Championship 2021 – after a total of 106 international matches and the 2014 World Cup title.

But a lot has happened since the night in Rio di Janeiro in the holy Maracana. Since then, German football and the national team have only gone in one direction: downwards – including the two World Cup debacles Russia and Train.

Kroos brings back self-image

Especially after the last preliminary round, the pressure is immense in many ways. In terms of sport, the team absolutely needs success. The DFB team cannot afford an early failure like in previous tournaments at the European Championships in their own country.

Kroos also returned for this. He is the crucial piece of the puzzle in Nagelsmann’s heavily changed squad and is supposed to be a leader, stabilizer, pace setter and game designer in the midfield center. A big burden lies on his shoulders, which is “impossible” to carry alone, said Kroos, who didn’t want to exaggerate the possible return effect: “It’s not like he’s coming back now – and it’s good.”

However, the Real Madrid star still has high ambitions. “I want to help the team. And I am convinced that I can do it,” he said confidently. “Unfortunately you can’t get that out of me, you’re basically buying into it, this self-image of wanting to be successful.” This self-image has been missing too often in the struggling team lately.

Whether the newly formed team can now show a different sporting face will be shown in the top-class test matches against title contenders France and the Netherlands.

Social responsibility at the home European Championships

The DFB team is also in demand off the pitch. The association has had too many mishaps there in recent years and suffered damage to its image – with the Qatar World Cup as the low point. “The World Cup in Qatar was certainly not a glory day for us on and off the pitch,” DFB managing director Andreas Rettig recently stated in an interview with FOCUS online.

The players became political pawns. A signal against human rights violations in the oil state boomeranged, culminating in the ridiculous dispute over the One Love captain’s armband. The unrest and thus the lack of support from Germany was identified as the main reason for the sporting failure. A questionable analysis, which resulted in the DFB decoupling from all political issues.

Since the German national team also has a socio-political responsibility, this has long since been corrected at the DFB. Because sport is also about solidarity – on and off the pitch.

A summer fairy tale as a common goal

“Football has a strong voice and a great responsibility. Football is for everyone and is therefore incompatible with racism and discrimination,” said DFB President Bernd Neuendorf on Monday in Berlin at the presentation of the new anti-racism project, with which the aim is to make a contribution to an “open and tolerant society”.

The goal is a summer fairy tale 2.0, a reminder of the home World Cup in 2006. This requires sporting success on the pitch, but also an electric atmosphere in the stands and streets. “The summer fairy tale and the motto ‘Visiting friends’ really touched me back then,” said Rettig and explained the goal for the summer: “To show this welcoming culture and hospitality again is, for me, the strongest social task and message that we have should leave behind.”

A jersey as a statement

It’s a different face that the football association is showing recently. The pink away jerseys are part of the new DFB, which now deals with the critics confidently and provocatively. The shitstorm from some circles was correctly anticipated and countered with another prepared response video.

  • “What is that supposed to be? A fashion piece?” – “More like a fashion statement,” replies model and designer Lena Gercke.
  • “No jersey for legends” – “Well, I think so,” answers football legend Rudi Völler.
  • “Is that a women’s jersey?” – “It doesn’t look like eight European Championship titles to me yet,” counters national player Jule Brand.
  • “That’s not a Germany jersey!” – “It is,” says Florian Wirtz briefly, surrounded by a group of other national players.

Yes, it doesn’t appeal to every fan. In terms of taste, you can certainly argue about it. But it is a jersey for a new generation of German football fans – and it obviously captures the spirit of the times. According to Adidas spokesman Oliver Brüggen, the pink “fashion statement” had the best sales start that a German away jersey has ever had.

The DFB is taking a new path, which at first glance seems to be the right one. However, the fall height on this path is large. The responsibility for the European Championship in our own country is gigantic. If the sporting renaissance fails to materialize, many things will come back to the association like a boomerang. We all know who will be to blame for the early exit: the pink jersey. The nagging continued, “typically German”.


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