When the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund or DFB) was formed in Leipzig in 1900, there were just 86 clubs. By 2016, that number had swollen to 25,000 with nine 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 three 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. Finally, Germany were triumphant again in Brazil in 2014, under Joachim Löw, beating the Argentinians 1-0 in the final.
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 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's team is equally impressive. They have been European champions eight times – in 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013 – under the tutelage of Gero Bisanz, Tina Theune-Meyer and, as of 2005, Silvia Neid. The FIFA Women's World Cup, a tournament the country successfully staged in 2011, has been landed twice, in 2003 and 2007, in addition to a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and bronze medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008. The men's team won silver at the Rio Games.
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 UEFA European Championships – with the Maurice Burlaz Trophy, UEFA's foremost youth football award. Similarly, the nation's best young female players claimed the FIFA Women's U-20 World Cup in 2004, 2010 and 2014.
On the club front, FC Bayern München have been the most successful team, boasting 44 domestic trophies – 26 league championships and 18 national cups. The Bavarians have also collected the European Champion Clubs' Cup three times and the UEFA Champions League twice. Moreover, the team have won the European Cup Winners' Cup, the UEFA Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup once each. Two European/South American Cups also 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.
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