Sports policy: Watzke as a cleaner on Germany's football construction sites

Hans-Joachim Watzke had an exclusive look when the next football construction site opened up right in front of his eyes.

Sports policy: Watzke as a cleaner on Germany's football construction sites

Hans-Joachim Watzke had an exclusive look when the next football construction site opened up right in front of his eyes.

The 63-year-old sat horrified in the dark DFB suit with the four world champion stars in the grandstand of the Al-Bait Stadium when the national team lost the World Cup against Costa Rica - and only a few hours later he had another important role in German football.

DFB President Bernd Neuendorf brought the crisis-tested and experienced Bundesliga manager to his side as an expert and decision-maker. And if the DFB boss, who has not had to fire a coach or manager in his short tenure, will probably have national coach Hansi Flick and national team director Oliver Bierhoff on Wednesday for the World Cup analysis and with the sporting managers the sense of a common future towards home -EM 2024 wants to explore, Watzke is the fourth man in the round.

DFB and DFL before changes

Watzke has now risen to become the most influential football manager in this country. Even if he "does not think in such categories himself," as he said in an interview with the German Press Agency in the summer. This week, however, could reveal the true meaning that combines the managing director of Borussia Dortmund, 1st DFB vice president and head of the DFL supervisory board. Is it possible that Watzke is cleaning up the amateur and professional camps at the same time?

Bierhoff's position at the DFB is shaking. And in the German Football League (DFL), according to "Kicker", Donata Hopfen is about to be replaced as CEO after less than twelve months. The 46-year-old is said to have lost the trust of the supervisory board led by Watzke. So there's a lot to do for Watzke, who "didn't push himself" for the jobs beyond his BVB: "I probably had an influence before, now I'm responsible. That's the difference."

Neuendorf and Watzke stayed in Doha as members of the DFB delegation far away from the national team in the same hotel. In the run-up to the crisis meeting with Flick and Bierhoff, they are in close contact. Neuendorf attaches importance to "an orderly procedure". The duo has already played an indirect one-two, namely with the term "The Team". Watzke rejected the marketing claim supported by Bierhoff as "too aloof" even before Neuendorf was in the DFB office. When the 61-year-old was elected president of the association in March, "The Team" was history a little later.

Bierhoff stands for the downward trend since 2014

According to all the advance signals, Bierhoff (54), who has long been viewed critically or negatively in the Bundesliga, must fear meeting Neuendorf and Watzke more than Flick (57). Even if the national coach is also responsible for World Cup mistakes. And Watzke still has a close connection to ex-BVB coach Jürgen Klopp, the coach of Liverpool FC who has always been considered the national coach of choice.

In contrast to the national coach Flick, who took office just 16 months ago, Bierhoff stands for the almost continuous sporting downward trend of the national team since the World Cup triumph in 2014. "Unfortunately, I have no arguments with three bad tournaments," said Bierhoff himself in a quiet voice after the next World Cup Preliminary round in Qatar.

Bierhoff immediately suspected that he would be targeted in the event of possible personal consequences: "I've been here for 18 years. I also know that the mechanism is starting now, that the discussion is taking place. You have to face it. I will take my responsibility. It's up to others to decide whether to go ahead. It's not up to me."

Bierhoff and Flick rule out resignation

Bierhoff committed Flick as national coach. There was applause for this in the summer of 2021. From 2006 to 2014 they formed a unit with Joachim Löw in the DFB team. Are the close companions now tying their professional destinies together? Both are excited about the home EM 2024. "The atmosphere at home, the support of the fans at home, will definitely carry the team forward," believes Bierhoff. He ruled out resignation. Flick too.

What are Neuendorf and Watzke planning? How do they act? You could limit Bierhoff to a focus on the DFB academy. The DFB campus, which was only inaugurated in the summer and costs 150 million euros, was Bierhoff's idea. He should be an innovation driver, a central think tank of German football. Meanwhile, Flick could be assigned a sporting director, a kind of manager like Bierhoff was in his early DFB years. A world champion with public appeal, for example - someone like Sami Khedira?

Perhaps Watzke will also be more closely tied to the national team in the long term. Something like this happened in earlier times of crisis. After the EM debacle in 2000, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was assigned to DFB team manager Rudi Völler as task force manager. And in the spring of 2006, after a 4-1 loss against Italy, everyone feared for success at the home World Cup, the "Task Force" was revived, with Bayern manager Uli Hoeneß as spokesman for the clubs. Like Watzke now in Qatar, Hoeneß had followed the international match as a grandstand guest in Florence.