GERMAN BUNDESLIGA 2013-2014
BERLIN OLYMPIC STADIUM
On the 1st of August 1936, the Olympics game were officially inaugurated by the head of state Adolf Hitler. High above the track where the athletic events would take place the Olympic cauldron was lit by the athlete Fritz Schilgen.
Around the world millions would listen in and watch on, this being the first Olympics with integrated telecommunications available. Television audiences and live radio transmissions across 28 languages looked on at the sporting events. But little did the world know that Hitler was the man who would soon set the world on a road to disaster and World War II.
Hitler has of course gone and these days a different more advanced revolutionary form of media entertainment brings football into all our lives. Televised football coverage has been revolutionised with leagues such as the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga becoming the place for media companies and corporate partners to push and position themselves inside the domestic household.
Stadiums since the 1936 Olympics have become repositioned not for the fan but more for media companies. The multiviewer entertainment fashions of today from laptops, to HD media, integrated TV’s through to mobile apps mean many Saturday afternoon kickoffs have gone to be replaced by the social media spectator based in his living room.
Matches involving Bayern Munich are naturally, within this culture, a foremost product of choice for many football fans. The club is known to some abroad as ‘Bayern Monaco’ often find themselves at the main table when silverware is being dished out. With its worldwide recognised brand and global corporate partners the German giants inevitably find themselves at the forefront of global football watching especially so when the fixture (as it v Hertha) involves the potential for the Championship to be secured in record fashion.
It was estimated that millions of people worldwide watched this game through a variety of online and television platforms. Bayern Munich wrapped up its 24th Bundesliga title with a comfortable 3-1 victory in the German capital. Even with it being a cold Tuesday night goals from Kroos, Mario Gotze and Frank Ribery saw Bayern net the fastest Bundesliga championship title in history.
Despite this modern spectre of football entertainment looming over every game if stadiums these days were built with the intention of creating a more intimate atmosphere then this concept has largely been forgotten where the Olympic Stadium is concerned. Outside the stadium, the old stone entry points remain as does the Jesse-Owens-Allee. When redevelopment was embarked upon for the 2006 FIFA World Cup the overriding intention was for the stadium to retain the original outer architectural feel.
That is not to say that modernisation left the stadium out in the cold when compared to other football stadia which were being redeveloped at the same time in Germany. A new roof was extended over the terracing and seating was lowered significantly nearer the athletics track which was coloured blue to mirror the colours of Hertha Berlin. The western portion of the stadium near the Marathon Arch is also open to reveal the Bell Tower to the spectators.
In total €242m was spent equipping an ageing stadium with the latest technology in artificial illumination, media technology capability and sound amplification.
The years since the upgrade have seen the Olympic Stadium’s stock as a football only theatre increase in no small part thanks to it being the stage for the biggest game in football; the 2006 FIFA World Cup final between Italy and France. For so long this was a place only remembered for its infamous role in Nazi propaganda and as a crumbling outpost during the years of East/West cold war division. Now each year the final of the DFB Pokal (German Cup) is held here and the Champions League final is due to be held in May 2015.
With the standing of the Olympic Stadium increasing so the esteem of Hertha BSC has grown. If the 1970’s were a time of promise the 1980’s saw a club on the decline. It was not until the wall came down and the 1990’s progressed that the club found a way back to the Bundesliga.
That is not to say things since then have been plain sailing for Hertha. Relegations have continued to be suffered but the 2013-2014 season saw the club top the table as the fixtures began to unfold.
Bayern, however, were defending their title. The strength of the Bavarian giants was indicated further by the fact that the previous season’s title had been won by a 25 point margin under former manager Jupp Heynckes.
Bayern controlled the game with a swaggering arrogance for which they have become noted. Hertha Berlin’s tall striker Adrian Ramos did find the net by scoring a second-half penalty for the hosts but a late delightful chip by Frank Ribery wrapped up a 3-1 win that nobody watching on could deny they deserved.
Under new manager, Guardiola Bayern has taken on a new look and left second-placed Borussia Dortmund well off the pace. In short, if the title was not to be won in Berlin it would be secured elsewhere soon whether this is the Allianz or in Stuttgart.
With the popular Gotze operating in a false nine number position, Kroos gave Bayern the lead in 6 minutes for the first goal of the match. The second goal was then scored by Gotze from close by the near post after another sweeping move.
The strength of Bayern has highlighted thanks to the half-time introduction of French winger Ribery and the Croatian striker Mandzukic. Both subs took the pressure off an increasingly leg weary side who had an equally important game against Manchester United ahead in the Champions League.
The celebrations at the end of the game (which included Bayern displaying a mock Bundesliga trophy) went on for some time and revealed thousands of Bayern fans located around the ground including a number in the home end.
With its progressive business model and huge turnover the German Bundesliga is a perfect example of modern media broadcast income streams meeting fan orientated match-day revenues and sponsorship receipts – and doing it all very successfully.
It is one of the only European football league where clubs collectively make a profit clubs and continues to have the highest average attendance out of Europe’s five major leagues. Other leagues should take note of this modern form of football before they fall further behind.
This originally appeared in voices in football and was amongst a number of reports that appeared during early 2014.
You can see the images from the game here.