Football fans and clubs in Germany: conflicts, crises and compromises
Merkel, U. (2012) Football fans and clubs in Germany: conflicts, crises and compromises Soccer & Society, 13 (3). pp. 359-376. ISSN 1466-0970
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Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1466097...
In 2005, the economic value of the football industry in Germany was estimated at around e5 billion. At the end of the 2009/2010 season, the 18 Bundesliga clubs registered a combined turnover of just over e2 billion. As in many other countries, the largest proportion of the clubs’ income derives from sponsors, fans, the sale of TV rights and merchandising. This chapter provides a short overview of the relatively late formation of the commercial axis of professional football in Germany, focusing on the commodification, commercialization, and eventually bourgeoisification of this popular sport. This process has been accompanied by a number of conflicts and tensions, as the game’s traditional fans have often been treated as ‘poor relatives’. The growing wealth of players, the greed of many football directors, the lack of respect for the local community and the blatant commercialism of the industry has not gone down well with fans, as their colourful and systematic resistance to the so-called ‘modernization’ of the game clearly shows. I will argue that the rather fan-friendly attitudes and structures of the German Bundesliga, which provides more opportunities for fans’ democratic involvement than any other professional football league, is the outcome of constant hegemonic struggles.
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