To Cancel or to Proceed: The Future of the German Soccer Bundesliga and the 2019/20 Season

Stadium woes

BHC FORUM

The government has spoken. The decision has been made. After consultation with the ministers of all 16 German states, German Chancellor Angela Merkel unveiled a plan to partially lift the Covid-19 Lockdown, allowing small and medium-sized businesses to reopen and schools to resume classes in phases, beginning with the upper classes who are scheduled to write theie tests and graduate.  The distance requirements remain the same and the use of mouth masks is highly recommended but not required.  The bad news is one that many communities have feared for the last few weeks. Until 31 August, all large-scale events, where thousands of spectators and visitors attend, are banned from taking place. This applies for all festivals, concerts and even sporting events.

This includes all games involving the German soccer Bundesliga, where despite having a start date of the first weekend of May, the soccer league is facing an uncertain future in terms of finances and finishing the 2019/20 soccer season, determing which teams are champions in each of the tiers of the league, and finding out which of the top three are promoted and which of the bottom three teams are demoted to a lower league- like going up and down an elevator.

Already the German Basketball Leagues (BBL) has canceled the remaining season with the champions crowned and the top teams promoted. The German hockey league (DEL) has canceled its remaining season with plans of restarting the season with the same teams in each level that had started the 2019/20 season- no elevator concept and no champions.

The German soccer league is facing a peculiar situation where they are facing the choice of continuing the season, knowing that over 750 million Euros in TV money is on the line but millions more in losses are expected through their play in empty stadiums. If they cancel the remaining season, as many teams have expressed wishes, the TV money would not be transferred to the soccer teams, hence many of them would go into administration- 75% would be liquidated.

Henceforth, health or money, the decision on the finishing of the 2019/20 season needs to be made. In your opinion, what should the German soccer leagues do in light of the current situation and the decisions that have been made by officials in Berlin? A poll is below. Feel free to vote. Your comments are also welcomed.

 

 

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RWE Out of Profi German Soccer

Ariel view of Steigerwald Stadium, home of Rot-Weiss Erfurt. Photo taken in 2007 by Tom Kidd for WikiCommons

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Professional Soccer Team shuts down after failure to find Investor to save the Team.

ERFURT, GERMANY- “I died twice this week. This is especially hard. We’ll Need everything to cope with this.” These were the comments from Robin Krüger in an interview with the Thüringen Allgemein Newspaper after learning the fate of the traditional soccer team in the capital of Thuringia on Tuesday.  After struggling to find an investor to  keep the team running, since filing for bankruptcy in 2018, and failing even with the last-minute attempt to find a solution, the profi-soccer team Rot-Weiss-Erfurt is officially no more. The announcement to de-register the team from the Regionalliga Nord was made by the insolvency administer Volker Reinhardt yesterday afternoon at 3:00pm and was made official shortly afterwards. As a consequence, all games played by the team to date have been annulled and Erfurt is the first team to be demoted down to the Oberliga, the fifth league in the German soccer league food chain. That league features mainly teams from Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, in comparison to the other league, which features teams from the whole northeastern corner of Germany- which used to be East Germany.

The team’s misfortunes began in March 2018, when the team filed for receivership due to a lack of funding and investors. At that time, Erfurt was in the 3rd National League of the German Football Federation (DFB) and as a consequence, it was relegated to the Regionalliga Nord, effectively ending a 10-year run on the national level. It was hoped that with the new start in the league and with the creation of a limited corporation run by an investor found at that time, the team could return to national prominence. Unfortunately, towards the end of last year, the investor was unable to pay the players and head coach, resulting in them pulling out. Reinhardt attempted to look for help through other investors and even the City of Erfurt, neither of them were successful.

With the folding of the profi-soccer team, the remaining soccer players would have a chance to find another soccer team to play the remaining 2019/20 season. At the same time, the Rot-Weiss Erfurt organization can work on a new concept to eliminate a deficit of over 1 million Euros they are facing at present without being liquidated. The last team that was liquidated was Sachsen Leipzig, which happened in 2012. It also had played in the Regionalliga but never had the taste of national football as Erfurt had, during its 55-year history, which includes two seasons in the second tier of the German soccer league since 1990. Furthermore, Rot-Weiss Erfurt had one stint in the UEFA in 1991. On the state level, it had been on par with FC Carl Zeiss Jena in the Thuringia Cup for over a decade, playing for the cup. Prior to that, it had played in the East German Oberliga, having won two seasonal championships and finishing second in the East German Cup in 1980, losing to its cross-state rival, Carl Zeiss Jena.

The loss of Rot Weiss Erfurt is a bitter one for those who have followed the team through the years and watched the rivalry with Jena, the lone Thuringian team still playing on the national level in the 3rd league as of present. Every Saturday, the city center would be plastered with red and white banners, the main colors of the soccer team, with loyal supporters of the team flocking to Steigerwald Stadium, located on the south end of the city in the Governmental District (Regierungsviertel). This will be missed, along with the games that made the crowd scream and the city heard.

With the folding of the soccer team, there is a glimmer of hope for RWE as it starts at the very bottom. The organization can build a new team to play in the Oberliga come next season, assuming there is enough capital. They can still play in the Steigerwald Stadium, which will be a blessing. The youth club (Nachwuchszentrum) will remain for now, as the youth can learn to play soccer. It will be the same youth that will carry the name Rot Weiss Erfurt if they survive the worst of times as they are doing right now. For the city set to host the German Garden Show (BUGA) in 2021, Erfurt and soccer go together like bread and butter. It’s just not the same without RWE, let alone profi-soccer, something we will not see for a while.

 

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Erfurt has not been the lone city suffering from soccer misfortunes. Another Regionalliga rival, Wacker Nordhausen, filed for insolvency in November after carrying a massive debt the Team could not handle. It received a nine-point penalty and could also face a demotion if there is no plan to save the team. FC Carl Zeiss Jena is on the brink of going down to the Regionalliga after a very poor performance during the soccer season. It currently is in last place.

LINKS:

Information on Rot-Weiss-Erfurt can be found here:

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/FC_Rot-Wei%C3%9F_Erfurt

As well as the folding of the club:

https://www.mdr.de/sport/fussball_rl/rot-weiss-erfurt-muss-spielbetrieb-einstellen-100.html

 

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Aus! Vorbei! Und Tschüss, Jogi und Co!

 

German Soccer Team sets all time lows in their earliest exit from the 2018 World Soccer Cup in Russia in history.

There is a quote to start off this column about the defeat of the defending World Cup Champions of 2014 Germany, and it is a very simple one to swallow: Glauben und Sagen sind Gut; Kontrolle und Beweise sind besser. In English, it goes along the lines of Belief and Talk are good; Proof and Evidence are better. Germany was suppoosed to defend their 2014 World Cup title in the way it performed four years ago. However, a 2-0 pasting by South Korea in the last game of the first round of the 2018 World Cup in Russia sealed the deal in setting all new lows for the German soccer team in history.  To start off with, it was the first time in 80 years that Germany was eliminated after the first round in the World Cup. The last time it happened, it was after the Anschluss with Austria, which had been the better team before HItler took over.  It was also the first time in 18 years that the national soccer team was eliminated after the first round in an international tournament. The last time it happened was in the Euro-Cup in 2000. And like in this tournament, it featured a very lackluster performance that consisted of a tie and two defeats- a 1-0 shutout to England, its first in 32 years, and a 3-0 freightliner to Portugal.

While the German national coach  Erich Ribbeck eventually resigned after the early exit in 2000, the question is whether Joachim Loewe (Jogi, for short), Germany’s present national coach will do the same after this disastrous outing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.  After all, the ball started rolling after the team suffered its first World Cup defeat in the opener of the first round since the 1982 tournament as West Germany. And like the upset to Algeria, the German soccer team of 2018 appeared clueless and defenseless against Mexico, having been upset in the first game 1-0.  After redeeming themselves in game two with a 2-1 win against Sweden, they needed their third win against South Korea, which not only did not happen, but they were humbled, spanked, annihilated, and embarassed. The last 10 minutes of that match summarized their latest outing in the tournament.

Before going further, let’s have a look at the highlights of the three matches:

Game 1:  1-0 for Mexico

Game 2: 2-1 victory over Sweden

Game 3: 2-0 loss to South Korea.

 

Surely the pressure is on Jogi to resign, yet when asked if he was going to do so, the response was simple: “It’s too early. I’m deeply disappointed. I never thought we would lose to South Korea.”

Those were his words. The head coach, who has led the team since 2006, with two second place finishes in the Euro-Cup (2016) and the World Cup (2010) and the World Cup Championship in 2014, plus the 2017 Confederations Cup title, is considering stepping down.  My advice to Jogi is: Don’t do it.

Why take this bold approach?  As Piggeldy and Frederick would say: Nicht leichter als das  (Not easier than this.)

Germany has a long tradition of producing the finest soccer players as much as the finest coaches. In fact, some of the best players have become even better coaches, be it Rudi Voeller, Franz Beckenbauer or even Jogi himself. Each coach has had their own way of training their players to become the best in them.  Even players like Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Mueller or even Manuel Neubert would be potential coaches for local soccer teams or even a national team if they wanted to take that path because of their experience. However, Jogi’s  time has not come to step down just yet.

It has nothing to do with the contract that takes him through 2023. It has more to do with the coach with his character versus the personalities of the players.  That has to do with how he and the German team have projected themselves so far. One doesn’t need to go further than listening to some of the parodies many German radio stations  have produced, looking at the German soccer team in general: a coach who is cool under pressure, trying to keep the team together, despite all the minor personal issues each player and personnel had up until the most recent game with South Korea. The best parody so far has been with Jogis Eleven, a comedy produced by central German radio station Jump Radio (powered by MDR Radio).  If one has a team that is coherent like a family, on the same page and have the same values and goals, then one can go far.

However, if one has a team where one promises to win it all but loses it all because of the lack of will to pull it all off, then it is very obvious that a disaster like this would happen. Already the team struggled to win even one game in 2018, having won only one game in the friendly matches prior to the opening game of the World Cup- a 2-1 squeaker against Saudi Arabia, the same team that they had spanked 8-0 in the opening round of the 2002 World Cup. Otherwise, they had two additional losses and one tie. Very atypical for the 2014 Champions. There, the red flags were going up. Then came the arrogance of the team, which revealed its ugly face after Tony’s Kroos’ last second win against Sweden in game 2 of the first round.  This altercation came after the game was over:

This is just as poor sportsmanship as a man slapping a woman, invoking spousal abuse. Even as a husband of a wonderful German wife and proud parent of a German-American daughter, this act of cockiness is an act of cowardness revealing the biggest weakness of the German soccer team, which is they were just not good enough- physically but especially mentally. It would be a matter of time until this disasterous third game that exposed everything and scared every naked woman taking a shower by a peeping tomcat.

In simpler languages, the performance by the team was just not cool, and Loewe as a coach only has part of the blame.  The players themselves have at least half the blame, if not the majority. But to be diplomatic, there is enough blame to go around because of the lack of attention to the other teams and how they have improved in comparision to how Germany has improved, making their shortest showing on record look like round one of the Rocky Balboa- Clubber Lang boxing match in Rocky III:

And even that defeat presents a good quote by Robert Collier: In every defeat is a lesson showing you home to win the victory the next time.

And so, we are going home, starting over from scratch. The poor performance shows that the team is in dire need of a change. Most of the players on the roster are past their prime, beset by injuries and a change of attitude since the 2014 Cup. The gap between the has-beens and the rookies is as wide as ever before, with the latter not undertanding the importance of  representing Germany and the world on the international stage. The personnel on the team is ready to step aside from their duties in soccer, especially the ones involved with the altercation with the Swedish soccer team after the second game. And basically, the team is in total disarray- in need of a total makeover. Yet it does not require the change in guard as the coach of the German national team.

In fact, keeping Jogi would represent continuity for Germany, for he can form the next set of soccer players who are ready to redeem themselves and prepare for a shot at the Euro-Cup in 2020. For himself, staying on would provide him with a chance to achieve the impossible, which is winning of Euro-Cup. The last time Germany won that was in 1996, the only time the team won since West and East Germany reunited in 1990. If he was to keep a couple members from the 2014 team, it would be the first for them as well.  Yet one thing is  certain, the team that showed up for  the 2018 World Cup will have all but maybe one or two  players disappear come 2020. Jogi will definitely look for ways to bring the next generation onto the international stage, while looking at ways of saying good-bye to the older generation, who is ripe to move on.

Yet Jogi must be aware that in the event that he stays on as coach for the German national soccer team, it will be his last chance to redeem himself, both for the Euro-Cup and for the 2022 World Cup. He must make it count but he must have the support of his personnel to make it happen. And it is very obvious that there must not be a repeat of what happened in the 2018 World Cup. The revival and return to relevance will be long, hard and bloody, like in the second boxing match between Rocky and Lang (see below). But with the right coach, like Jogi, and a set of players with as big of an appetite for an international title, the quest for success will be well worth it.

So without further ado, get back to work and look ahead to 2020. Go get ’em, Coach!

 

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The Last of the Dinosaurs is Dead: Hamburg SV Demoted After 55 Years in German Soccer Bundesliga- Quiz

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Flag of HSV Soccer team

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54 years, 261 days, zero hours and 15 minutes. That was how long the German soccer team Hamburg SV lasted in the German Soccer League in the Top Tier. The team was one of the 16 founding fathers that created the Bundesliga in 1963. Its last Bundesliga title came in 1983. Now, the clock that had been keeping track of the time in the Bundesliga has stopped. Despite a 2-1 victory in the last game of the 2017/18 season against Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg sealed HSV’s fate by running over FC Cologne 4-1. Wolfsburg needed to lose in order for HSV to play in the relegation playoffs with third place finisher in the second league Holstein Kiel. As it stands, HSV finished in second to last place in the standings and will play in the second league of the Bundesliga for the first time ever this fall. It will be accompanied by another founding Bundesliga team, last-place Cologne and if Kiel wins playoff series and enters the top league, Wolfsburg.

And while the last dinosaur officially became extinct after many years of being beset by misfortunes in management and sports and barely escaping the relegation series at least twice, it makes a person wonder how many times did the founding fathers have success in winning titles in comparison to being demoted down one league- that is until Bayern Munich’s current run of winning its fifth Bundesliga title in a row, and in cakewalk fashion. But before presenting the facts, why not try out a Guessing Quiz that looks at the founding fathers of the Bundesliga?

There were 18 teams that started play in the 1963/64 season. Since HSV’s official demotion into the second league, there are no more dinosaurs left, who played every season in the top league.

Guessing Quiz:

1. Who were the founding fathers of the Bundesliga in 1963? There were 18 of them.

 

 

2. Bayern Munich entered the top league later on and has been in the Bundesliga ever since. It now holds the title for being in the top league the longest without ever being demoted.

When did the team enter? _____________ When did the team win its first title?

 

 

3. Another team entered the Bundesliga and has yet to also play in the second league after being demoted. It holds the second longest record of its kind. Which team was it and when did it enter the first league for the first time ever?

 

 

4. One of the founding fathers actually had to play in the second league only once. After four years it returned to the top league and has been there ever since. It currently holds the title as the second longest tenured team even after it had been demoted before. Which team was that and how many years has it been in the league since its last demotion?

 

 

5. Prior to HSV’s demotion to the second league, there were two other founding teams that had been in the top league for at least three decades before being demoted for the first time. Which teams were they and when did they get demoted for the first time?

 

 

6. Which (current) founding team in the Bundesliga has never won any titles since the league’s creation?

 

 

7. Which two founding members of the Bundesliga has been in the top league the shortest time (and has still yet to return)?

 

 

8. Which German cities used to host two Bundesliga teams, one of which was a founding member of the team? Which teams are they?

 

 

9. Which German cities used to have two professional teams in the second league competing with each other before one of the two was promoted to the top league?

 

 

10. Which team would have competed with HSV as the longest tenured Bundesliga team had it not been for the one-year exile in the second league? Hint: This team has been in the second and third tiers since 2006.

 

11. Which seven teams have won doubles at least once (meaning the national cup and the Bundesliga title)? Hint: Four were from the former western half and three from the eastern half of Germany.

 

12. Of the three in the former East German Bundesliga (which dissolved after German reunification in 1990), which of them was the longest tenured team in the Bundesliga?

 

13. Of the three above-mentioned teams, which ones defeated FC Bayern Munich once before 1990 and at least once since then?

 

14. Since when has FC Bayern Munich finished no worse than third place? Fifth place?

 

15. The following teams had mascots. What were they?

Eintract Brunswick

MSV Duisburg

FC Kaiserslautern

Hertha BSC Berlin

Eintract Frankfurt

Hamburg SV

FC Cologne

 

Bonus: Holstein Kiel, whose mascot is a ___________ has not been in the Bundesliga since _________.

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FC Bayern Munich Wins 24th Bundesliga Soccer Title

 

 

Newsflyer:  3:1 Victory over Hertha BSC Berlin secures team Bundesliga Title in Record Time

BERLIN-  At the start of this season , questions were asked as to how to stop the 2013 Triple Crown Winners of the German Bundesliga, the German Cup and the Champions League, FC Bayern Munich, let alone who to stop them.
That question will have to wait until next season, after Berlin became the latest team to fall to the red, white and blue.  Thanks to goals from Mario Goetze, Toni Kroos and Franck Ribery,  last night’s 3:1 victory at Olympia Stadium guaranteed FC Bayern its 24th Bundesliga title. Yet its pace to win the title in 24 games was the earliest ever recorded, even breaking their own record set in April last year. Normally, the title is decided in late May. Yet, because of its record and the points garnered in the standings, Bayern Munich became the first soccer team to win the title in March, the month where March Madness in the form of college basketball tournaments in the USA take place.
Apparently the sentencing of former FC Bayern manager Uli Hoeness to 3.5 years in prison for tax evasion two weeks ago did not phase the soccer team, as many of the players claimed that the title was for him. While other newspapers and agencies have jumped on the bandwagon, others claimed that the team was better off without him, and that he was a distraction anyway. Nevertheless, the title will provide them with enough motivation to do the following: strive for a repeat of the triple crown, set a record for the number of points in the standings (100), and become the only team to finish the season undefeated.  With elite talent, like Ribery, Goetze and Bastian Schweinsteiger on the team, the chances of not achieving any of these are next to nil.
And as for the next season, teams in the hunt for spots in the European Cup (4th-6th place) and Champions League (2nd and 3rd places) as well as those trying to survive the rest of the season without finishing in the bottom three and ending up in the second tier of the Bundesliga will be finding ways to take revenge on the team that has destroyed them in competition for two straight seasons now. Apart from Berlin, this includes Leverkusen, Dortmund and Schalke 04. That opportunity may take shape as the affects of Hoeness’ downfall and prison term have not sunk in just yet. In simpler languages, the fans of FC Bayern Munich should enjoy this season while it lasts, as the quest for a three-peat will be even tougher than imagined.
The Flensburg Files would like to congratulate the team from FC Bayern Munich for winning the Bundesliga Title and wishing them best of luck in reaching their next goals.

S for Stadium Lights

Photo taken on 20 July 2013

Produced for Preservation in Pink

From the Sports Arena:

Many of us have our preferences when artefacts come to mind. Some like old buildings, like cathedrals, skyscrapers and even old apartment complexes. Some are partial to bridges built of stone and/or metal and prior to 1900. And some even love the nostalgia of historic highways, long since bypassed by expressways but still exist as a reminder of how highways were built in the bygone era.  But what about stadiums and in particular, stadium lights?

Many people, like Kaitlin O’shea (of Preservation in Pink) are probably scratching their heads wondering why this author is mentioning this topic. After all, when looking at the artefacts mentioned in the online column, such as historic houses, historic bridges, and historic buildings, stadium lights would be the last artefact to ever be mentioned. But here in Germany, it is the hottest topic at the moment, as a set of stadium lights that had been providing the stage for soccer games in a small eastern German town in the state of Thuringia is about to become history.

Located along the Saale River in eastern Thuringia, Jena has a population of 120,000, two universities and two central locations for science and technology. It prides itself on the biotechnological, optical and electronic industries, and of course, the seven wonders of the city, which includes the St. Michael’s Cathedral, the Camsdorf Arch Bridge, Fox Tower and Lobdeburg Castle. The Ernst-Abbe-Soccer Stadium and its four nostalgic flood lights are considered for many the eighth wonder of the city. While the stadium, which houses a professional men’s soccer team (FC Carl Zeiss Jena), a professional women’s soccer team (USV Jena) and a regional men’s soccer team (SV Schott Jena), dates back to 1924, the “giraffe lights”, as many locals tout them to be, were built in 1974 to provide night-time games for tens of thousands of fans. They can be seen from several kilometers away from all directions, even clearly at night when the soccer games are taking place.

Photo of the Giraffe Lights at Ernst-Abbe-Stadium in Jena. Taken from the author’s home in the southern suburb of Winzerla in January 2012

Yet the days of the 70 meter tall light posts, which had been characteristic for the stadium and a favorite for many people attending soccer games in Jena are numbered. Flooding this past June, the worst since 1994, put the entire stadium and sports  complex, along with 60% of the city of Jena, underwater. Floodwaters ate away at the foundation, and up to 40% the four-legged tower supports corroded away to a point where the towers were in danger of collapse. In other words, the stadium lights needed to be removed before anyone can step back onto the soccer field, for safety reasons.

Since these towers were condemned to scrap metal two weeks ago, an outcry from tens of thousands of Jena soccer fans poured into the halls of the City Hall, where many people wanted at least one of the Giraffes to be replaced. Apart from that, the decision to take them down could not have come at an even more perfect time, as the stadium itself was scheduled to be reconstructed into a multi-sport complex. With flood damages being in the millions of Euros, with the stadium and adjacent sports complex needing over a million for repairs, questions are being posed as to how to proceed further with the reconstruction efforts, and who should pay for at least part of the financing. Already FC Carl Zeiss Jena is threatening with bankruptcy protection if they need to assist more in the project because of the team being cash-strapped, despite its strive to enter the third flight of the German Premier League. It currently is in the Regional League Northeast. And it is understandable, for stadium lights are required in order to play ball in the Regional and Premier League. While makeshift lighting will definitely be needed before the season begins in August, calls for Carl Zeiss to provide more money for the project, even if it means cooperating or consolidating with another Jena soccer team like SV Schott, will eventually reach city hall and beyond. But that’s a different story.

Eventually the city council’s decision to keep and restore one of the Giraffe Lights last week was a blessing in disguise, for many people seem to like its nostalgia and its historic value. While the majority of the buildings built during the Communist era were plain bland multiple-story building complexes, the Giraffe Lights at the Stadium belong to the few bright spots that one can take with, when remembering the days of soccer during the Cold War. It’s rather unusual and sleek design makes the stadium lights built today look like the aforementioned East German buildings. And it is understandable that a football tradition like the one seen in Jena would not like to part ways with a relict that has become typical of soccer for the region. Even reading lights resembling the Giraffes are selling like hot cakes.  But one would not think about being emotional about stadium lights like the ones in Jena, right?

Looking at the American stadiums built in the past and present, as well as the baseball and softball complexes, one would not even think about the stadium lights much as they’re either hung on rafters, or supported by a series of steel poles. In many cases, if you look at the old small township softball fields, the lights are supported by wooden telephone poles connected with wires. But if one is attached to a certain relict of history and connects it with memories that they have with certain events, like soccer or any other sport, it is especially difficult to part ways with them if the time to dismantle and scrap them is needed. For the people in Jena, a piece of history is about to become scrap for all but one of the Giraffe Lights and while new lighting will be installed once the stadium is renovated, they will still remember the days when the Giraffe Lights lit up the city at night, helping the soccer teams win at home.

This leads to the Flensburg Files’ Frage für den Forum:

1. When looking at architecture and archaeology, which relict do you like the most and would do anything to save them? Example: People love historic bridges and would fight to save them.

 

2. How important are stadium lights in terms of their historic value? Do you know of stadiums and sporting complexes that have as fancy and historic lighting as the one in Jena?

 

3. A debate on how to reconstruct the Ernst Abbe Stadium has flared up where people are debating on whether to convert the soccer field into a sporting complex (like Heinz Field in Pittsburgh) or simply remodel the sporting complex, especially in light of the flooding (please see link).  If you were a Jena resident, would you favor renovation or reconstruction and why?

 

4. (In connection with number 3), when the new lights are installed in the project, should they resemble the Giraffe Lights, conforming to the one that is being saved and will be integrated into the project?

 

5. How much money should the sporting teams in Jena contribute and should FC Carl Zeiss Jena consider consolidating with other Jena soccer teams to contribute to the cost of rebuilding the stadium and adding the lighting?

 

Photos of the dismantling of the Giraffe Lights can be seen here:

The Giraffe Lights and the western side of the Ernst Abbe Stadium during the Great Flood of 2013

 

The dismantling of the first of four Giraffe Lights commencing.
Close-up of the missing top half of the Giraffe Lights coming apart.

Champions League Soccer Title comes to Germany…..

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For the first time in 12 years, the most prestigious international soccer trophy, the Champions League, is coming home to Germany. It’s only a question of where in Germany. On 25 May, 2013 the decision will be made on the field…. at Wembley Stadium…. in England!

Already, history was made in German Soccer on its 50th anniversary season, when FC Bayern Munich, with its key players like Franck Ribery, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, outran everybody enroute to its 23rd German season title at the earliest possible time possible- with seven games left in the regular season. It faces VfB Stuttgart for the German Cup (the DFB Pokal) on 1st June, and after destroying FC Barcelona in the semifinals in two games, 7-0, including a 3-0 victory on Barcelona soil yesterday, the team in red-white-blue is seeking the triple crown when facing its second place archrival, Borussa Dortmund.

As for Dortmund and its head coach Jürgen Klopp and many key players like Mario Götze, the team has had its own share of success, as the team had won back-to-back league titles in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons respectively, racking up a total of eight regular season titles. It had won the German Cup last year, as well.  And while the team has been sitting at a distant second place in the standings, one should not underestimate them, as they toppled Real Madrid, another Spanish casualty in the semi-finals of the Champions League by a score of 4-3 in two games, including a 4-1 victory in the first game. The 2-0 victory by Madrid was not enough to eliminate Dortmund. That team had won nine Champions League titles and 32 regular season titles in the Spanish League.

While the Spaniards are roiling in rage, waiting for the World Cup (and the next regular season in the Champions League) to take revenge on Germany, as it had dominated the soccer scene for most of the last 12 years since Bayern Munich won the 2001 title, the 2013 title solely belongs to Germany, and in its rightful way, as the two teams have all the cards, all the players, and all the excitement that will keep soccer fans on their feet, even those like the author who has been residing in Germany for more than a decade and has been following the soccer soap opera since the beginning. And it is clear that every city in Germany will be armed with jerseys, soccer balls, and lots of singers, as Dortmund and Bayern Munich will lock horns in over three weeks time.

This leads to the Flensburg Files’ Frage for the Forum (you can comment here or under the facebook or Twitter pages):

Which German Soccer Team will win the 2013 Champions League Title?   FC Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund? 

Reasons for your decision are also welcome.   The Flensburg Files will reveal the results shortly before the main event on 25 May.  Stay tuned.

Reminder:

Richard Halliburton Question:

How many US towns carry the name Munich, and where are they located?

You can comment on that as well between now and 20 May. The answer will be revealed in an article on a German-named town with the name Munich in it.