Christian Seifert: This has been some discussion, especially with Turkey, because young players can come under a lot of pressure. But it’s not a huge issue. Sometimes they decide one way, sometimes the other. Nuri Sahin decided to play for Turkey, Ozil for Germany.
Is the attraction for fans only the unpredictability of the result?
You know, Germany is more or less a pure football nation. We didn’t have cricket or rugby or cycling. So football became a very social event for many people. Also the 2006 World Cup gave it a big push because that was the point when some small clubs get new stadia and now so do all 18 clubs.
People come to the stadia because they enjoy it and there’s a very good atmosphere. In some stadia they even have kindergartens where you can put your kids. Our football is always a social event
None of the clubs from the former East Germany are now in the Bundesliga yet Dresden and Leipzig are great old football cities. How can you help clubs there – and why does this region generate some of the recent hooligan problems?
The problem of violence is a problem of society, it’s not a specific football problem but the product of social difficulties in areas which have a lot of jobless young people.
As for the clubs . . . when the Wall came down the German football association did a lot to support the eastern clubs. It reserved some places in the Bundesliga for them, supported them with money and even extended the Bundesliga.
But it was tough for those clubs because suddenly they had to operate in a regulated market but a market.
Their best players followed the money to the west, there was a lack of management competence and then some not-so-serious management people came from the west who were not interested in football but other business.
This led more or less to the present situation.
They wanted too much too fast but what can we do? We have 36 clubs and, if we help one eastern club to get up then another of our clubs, from east or west, goes down. We cannot help one club more than another.
So we have developed a different concept. We cannot send them a cheque so what we established was management conference where we sent over some specialists in areas such as tax, sports development, sales and whatever to give them more knowledge.
They have some stadia, like in Leipzig and Dresden and Magdeburg. If a club like Greuther Furth or Mainz or Freiburg can make it in the Bundesliga then so can Leipzig or Dresden. We need to transfer more knowledge but, then, they have to do the rest themselves.
What is your ‘take’ on a Winter World Cup in 2022?
First of all, what a surprise that was: that it’s hot in the summer in Qatar. Big news. Ridiculous.
Friends of mine in Abu Dhabi say there really is some kind of technique to cool down the stadia for the small amount of time the players are on the pitch. But then you have the fans . . . it would be a completely different sort of World Cup. You cannot play football in summer like that.
This is why I find the whole discussion a little weird. First they vote for Qatar and then, a few months later, they say we should play in the winter.
Of course you should play it in the winter! But I’m not a legal expert who can say they can just switch like that and maybe change something for England because their leagues play through without a winter break.
So I think there can be a solution but this is an example of what happens when you use football as a political instrument and think you are making some kind of United Nations project.
In the end it makes more sense to play football in areas where you can play football – not bring the game to an area where it did not really exist until then because you don’t play football anyway in the middle of the desert.
I would also be in favour of examining how this decision was reached.
I can’t say I would want it reviewed. I just think it is ridiculous that now people say we must play in the winter because it’s too hot in summer even though they voted for Qatar.
As far as I understand it, the concept was to play in the summer so those who voted for it need to explain why.
I think it’s a ridiculous discussion which damages FIFA and the World Cup as a whole. But to play in the summer in Qatar makes no sense, that’s for sure.
If you play in the winter you need to change all the schedules of western European countries for two seasons or maybe three. It’s important to know because of all the TV and commercial contracts.
Do you foresee a day when western Europe plays a spring to autumn season rather than the traditional, cross-year schedule?
It makes no sense – for one thing because the media needs football for eight months of the year and TV and the sponsors want to be there just ahead of Christmas. Anyway, in southern Europe – never mind Qatar – it gets quite hot in the summer.
Sometimes the big associations need to be very careful about the schedule. For example, why is all of Europe not allowed to play because of one game – the Champions League Final – at the end of a week in May? That makes no sense either.
How do you view organisations such as EPFL and ECA?
From today’s perspective we are not very satisfied with the workings of the EPFL. We aremostly fine with ECA though there are some leagues whose top clubs are in the ECA but don’t care for the others and that leads to imbalance.
I don’t know if the leagues can have too loud a voice because, really, within UEFA the power iswith the clubs. UEFA doesn’t need the Bundesliga to run the Champions League but it needs individual clubs like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
Will you use goal-like technology in the Bundesliga?
Certainly not before 2015. We talked with everyone but we understand the tolerance with the ball is up to 3cm and this, for me, is too much to be certain. Also, we have only perhaps five to eight incidents each season and all, apart from maybe one of them, is more or less clear.
Christian Seifert was talking to Keir Radnedge.