When the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund or DFB) was formed in Leipzig in 1900, there were just 86 clubs. By 2010, that number had swollen to 26,000 with 6.7 million members. The DFB is the biggest association in the German Sports Union and one of UEFA's largest member associations in terms of membership.
Continuity has always been a feature of the DFB. In its first 110 years of existence, there had been only ten presidents and ten national coaches. The main breakthrough on the field came in 1954 when the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) became world champions in Switzerland under coach Sepp Herberger. Germany would lift the FIFA World Cup trophy on two further occasions. In 1974 a host nation captained by Franz Beckenbauer and coached by Helmut Schön defeated the Netherlands in the final. Then, in 1990 in Italy, coach Beckenbauer's men pipped Argentina to glory.
Germany have also been runners-up in four World Cups. Schön's team lost to the hosts in 1966 in England; Italy overcame Jupp Derwall's charges at España 82; Beckenbauer and company were thwarted by Argentina in Mexico in 1986; and Brazil denied Rudi Völler's squad in Korea/Japan 2002. Additionally, Jürgen Klinsmann's side finished third at the 2006 tournament on home soil, as did Joachim Löw's in South Africa four years later. To these achievements can be added three UEFA European Championship titles, won in 1972 under Schön, in 1980 under Derwall, and in 1996 with Berti Vogts in charge.
The honours list of Germany's women is no less impressive. They have been European champions seven times – 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009 – under the tutelage of Gero Bisanz, Tina Theune-Meyer and, from 2005, Silvia Neid. The FIFA Women's World Cup has been landed twice, in 2003 and 2007, in addition to bronze medals at the Olympics of 2000, 2004 and 2008.
The DFB's youth development work is also reaping a rich harvest. In summer 2009, Germany held, for a space of 35 days, all three UEFA junior male titles. The association was rewarded for those exploits, in the U21, U19 and U17 European Championships, with the Maurice Burlaz Trophy, UEFA's foremost youth football award.
On the club front, FC Bayern München have been the most successful team, boasting 37 domestic trophies – 22 league championships and 15 national cups. The Bavarians have also collected the European Champion Clubs' Cup three times, and the UEFA Champions League, European Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cup once each. Two European/South American Cups embellish the picture.
The Federal League or Bundesliga, German football's highest club category, was founded in 1963, heralding the introduction of professionalism. The Bundesliga has since become a top brand. In 2000 a league association (Deutsche Fussball-Liga or DFL) was established, meaning that, for the first time in 100 years of DFB history, professional football had its own independent organisational structure under the DFB umbrella. This move helped preserve the unity of the German game, as decisions on all matters, national or international, continued to be taken jointly. The link between professional and amateur football was also consolidated.
Another significant event was the DFB's merger with the German Football Association (DFV) of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The DFV had been an independent UEFA member from 1954, with its finest hour coming with Olympic gold in Montreal in 1976 under coach Georg Buschner. The reunification of footballers from east and west took place in 1990 in Leipzig, cradle of the DFB. Stadium attendances and television ratings provide constant reminders that the united Germany – successful hosts of the 2006 World Cup – is a complete football country.
Date of birth: 30 November 1950
Association president since: 2012
• Wolfgang Niersbach started his career as a journalist for the sports news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst (SID), and covered football and ice hockey at several FIFA World Cups, UEFA European Championships and Olympic Games. He then accepted an offer from the German Football Association (DFB) to work as head of the press office for EURO '88 in Germany.
• Having headed the DFB's press office for many years, he then moved on to become managing vice-president of the local organising committee (LOC) for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. In October 2007, he was elected as DFB general secretary, succeeding Horst R Schmidt. Niersbach lives in his native Dreieich near Frankfurt, and is also a keen tennis player.
• The new DFB president emphasised cooperation between professional football and the grassroots as the foundation for the game's successful development. "The national team is the best example to all of us how professional and amateur football complement each other and can profit from each other. And they show how integration and a tolerant togetherness can be self-evident. My wish is that this example can work as a role model for the entire game." Niersbach was re-elected for a further three years in October 2013.
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