Watzke’s soulful New Year’s speech: “Not just behavior—it’s performance!”

Presidential Spokesperson Hans-Joachim Watzke sets out a wish list for 2023 at the New Year’s Eve soccer reception in Offenbach. You can find points such as “more self-confidence” and “special German football way”. In addition, the 63-year-old invites a new spirit of optimism, at least with regard to Euro 2024.

In good mood at the Bundesliga's New Year's reception: Supervisory Board Chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke and DFB President Bernd Neuendorf.

In good mood at the Bundesliga’s New Year’s reception: Supervisory Board Chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke and DFB President Bernd Neuendorf.
Image Alliance / dpa

In front of more than 400 invited guests from 36 professional clubs, the German Football Association, political and media partners, “Aki” Watzki chose eloquent words to describe the evolution of professional football: “We have to go our own way and we can no longer participate in this rat race” .

Constantly increasing player salaries, transfer fees, etc. is a thorn in Dortmunder’s side. Looking at the seven German clubs in the European Cup, German football has every reason to once again show “self-confidence”, despite the apparent economic superiority of the Premier League.

Compared to other major tournaments in Europe, the “Special Method” offers advantages such as maintaining low entry prices, which is also a reason for the above-average spectator count. “The league is in a much better position than it was two or three years ago,” said Watzke, who made an unspoken plea to keep the 50+1 rule between the lines.

I was seven years old when England won the last title.

Regardless of the disappointing performance of the Qatari national team in Qatar, ‘German football’ is in a better position than many would have done in their own country. “If a football country is only defined by its national team, I don’t see where the Premier League should get its confidence from. I was seven when England won the last title.”

“Wake up from the era of COVID-19 and get rid of the home office mentality”

The DFB chairman and managing director of the BVB also appealed to local club representatives “that we all wake up from the COVID-19 period and develop our energy”. Watzke advocated “abandoning the home-office mentality” and wrote to colleagues on the record: “It’s one thing to show behavior. But another thing is performance. It’s not called a competitive sport for nothing. And that not only applies to turf, but also to other areas.” We have to face the next big challenges for the league and the community. We have to see opportunity as a bit more than risk.”

The EM Championship 2024 is “a tremendous opportunity to show the power that football can radiate, and the enthusiasm it can develop.” But this requires a change of mood, to which the media must also contribute. Nobody took advantage of the fact that in connection with the World Cup in Qatar, an atmosphere was created that also settled on the participants “like mildew.” The team around national coach Hansi Flick did not in any way mitigate responsibility: “Of course” “Perception also has a lot to do with football”, which was shown at the end.

“I hope the league will continue to show solidarity.”

In mid-February 2022, Watzke succeeded Peter Peters as Chairman of the DFL Supervisory Board. The 63-year-old said, painting a very harmonious picture of the 36 professional clubs who at times had very different interests.

Among the guests in Offenbach was also former DFB managing director Christian Seifert, who “left a hole in the league”, as confirmed by the league president. Seifert’s successor, Donata Hopfen, and the Bundesliga have been going their separate ways since the beginning of December. The association will be chaired on an interim basis by Axel Hellmann from Frankfurt and Oliver Leckie from Freiburg.

Themo Mueller, Michael Ebert

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