Football fans and clubs in Germany: conflicts, crises and compromises

Udo Merkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2005, the economic value of the football industry in Germany was estimated at around e5 billion. At the end of the 2009/2010 season, the 18 Bundesliga clubs registered a combined turnover of just over e2 billion. As in many other countries, the largest proportion of the clubs’ income derives from sponsors, fans, the sale of TV rights and merchandising. This chapter provides a short overview of the relatively late formation of the commercial axis of professional football in Germany, focusing on the commodification, commercialization, and eventually bourgeoisification of this popular sport. This process has been accompanied by a number of conflicts and tensions, as the game’s traditional fans have often been treated as ‘poor relatives’. The growing wealth of players, the greed of many football directors, the lack of respect for the local community and the blatant commercialism of the industry has not gone down well with fans, as their colourful and systematic resistance to the so-called ‘modernization’ of the game clearly shows. I will argue that the rather fan-friendly attitudes and structures of the German Bundesliga, which provides more opportunities for fans’ democratic involvement than any other professional football league, is the outcome of constant hegemonic struggles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-376
Number of pages18
JournalSoccer & Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2012


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