A look at the numbers shows that globalization has changed German football, with foreign players now exceeding the home talent. When Hamburg (HSV) won the title in June 1960, there was only one player in the team who was not resident. We now live in a globalized world, and there may be fewer examples of this than the German Bundesliga.
Niko Kovač, currently head of Germany’s most successful club Bayern Munich, is from Croatia; His predecessor, Carlo Ancelotti, is Italian, while Carlo’s predecessor is Pep Guardiola, who comes from Spain. Guardiola now controls English Premier League club Manchester City. Former Dortmund leader Jürgen Klopp is now in Liverpool. German World Cup winner Toni Kroos plays for Real Madrid, while Mesut Ozil, a German international of Turkish descent, joined Arsenal in 2013, who previously played for Werder Bremen and Real Madrid. The list goes on.
The vast majority of the Bundesliga teams operate as joint-stock companies and partnerships (GmbH Co KGaA) or joint stock companies (AG). Professional football players are now employees who are looking for transfers to promote their careers rather than enthusiasm and loyalty for a particular club. How many of today’s best players remain loyal to their club when offered a more lucrative deal elsewhere? A large number of Bundesliga players are so-called expats who have come to Germany to find better career opportunities and a higher salary than they could expect in their home countries.
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German clubs are also facing fierce competition from major clubs in other countries such as Spain, England and France in terms of attracting talent from all over the world. The world’s best players can now demand large transfer fees. Just see Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, when he signed a contract with French PSG and thus opted out of FC Barcelona. The transfer sum was, according to media, approx. 222 million euros.
As early as 1995, the European Court of Justice ruled that the free movement of labor also applies to professional football players in the EU (EU). But in 1998, Otto Rehhagel, coach of the ruling champions FC Kaiserslautern, made headlines in the sports media to bring a fourth non-European player to compensation and thus exceed the limit for foreign players imposed by the German football association (DFB).
Eight years later the rules were changed so that, among other things, a. is no limit to foreign UEFA players, although there is still a requirement that a minimum number of players in German club teams must be recruited through German academies. The change in rules has obviously been important: at the end of the 2015/2016 season, players from 54 different foreign countries played in the Bundesliga. The best-represented nation was Brazil with 18 players under contract while 40 were from Latin America, 18 from African countries and 11 from Japan.
In addition to the many players from other European countries and Latin America who have played in the Bundesliga since the 1970s, a significant number of African football players have also gained their character. The first was the Ghanaian Ibrahim Sunday, which played for Werder Bremen from 1975 to 1977. The most productive African goal scorer in Bundesliga history is Anthony Yeboah, who found just 96 times in 223 Bundesliga matches. He was joint top scorer in the 1992/93 season together with Ulf Kirsten (Bayer Leverkusen) and again in the 1993/94 season together with Stefan Kuntz (FC Kaiserslautern). Fellow Ghanaian Sammy Kuffour can also look back on a highly successful Bundesliga career. He won a total of 17 titles with Bayern Munich between 1994 and 1997
As these examples show, the Bundesliga has opened its doors to players from abroad. Players who do well have every chance to make it to the top – wherever they come from.
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