Celebrating 60 years of the Bundesliga (1964-2024)

Celebrating 60 years of the Bundesliga (1964-2024)

With Pompey Football Club’s men’s and women’s teams winning their respective league divisions, it’s a great time to be a football fan. Few football fans are more devoted than Dr Ben McFadyean, who curated the display celebrating the 60th anniversary of the German federal football league, the Bundesliga. The Bundesliga display is available to view in the first floor landing display area until mid-July.

In the following fascinating interview, Ben explains the origins and pivotal moments in the development of modern German football.

What is the Bundesliga and how did it get started?

The Bundesliga is the top tier of football in the Federal Republic of Germany. It was created in 1963 to replace the regional leagues which since 1903 had played a final to establish the winner of the national title instead. 20 teams from each of the 16 federal states were chosen. In 1993, shortly after the reunification of the German Democratic Republic and the respective football clubs of the GDR top tier the Oberliga, that was reduced to 18.

What first sparked your interest in the Bundesliga?

My parents are from Ireland UK but I moved to Dortmund, where the club Borussia Dortmund are based, as a child. I was taken by Jochen, a family friend to watch Borussia and was given a football shirt for Christmas. I was at a British army school but my parents were not military so it was difficult to make friends. I found that watching the Borussia, known as BVB, on Weekends and playing in a local German team was a way to improve my German and make lots of local friends. The interest in the German league has stayed with me since then.

How did the reunification of Germany in 1990 impact the Bundesliga?

There were two top divisions one in West Germany and one in East Germany, the two countries were divided into a communist Eastern side, which was influenced by Russia then known as the Soviet Union, and a Western side which has an economic model similar to that in the UK or the United States. The GDR (East Germany) had the ‘Oberliga’ as a top tier. West Germany had the Bundesliga or Federal league in English. In 1991/92 the two leagues were merged to reflect the reunification of the two states into a united Germany. The majority of the clubs from the Oberliga were incorporated into the Regionaliga Nord-Ost, then the third tier. However the East German Champions at the time Hansa Rostock and the most successful club Dynamo Dresden were incorporated into the Bundesliga.

If you had to pick a high point of the Bundesliga, what would it be and why?

The Bundesliga has delivered players capable of winning four FIFA World Cup titles for Germany; 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014. The ticket prices are the cheapest in any of the leading football leagues in Europe. The fan experience, including safe standing which has been a consistent feature since the 1960s, is a genuine football fan culture where fans can celebrate their passion and support for the club in a recognisable way. In contrast to some other major leagues football clubs are majority member-owned which leads to a significant sense of participation. The high point of the German league is probably the 1970s when Borussia Mönchengladbach reached the final of the UEFA cup four times won it twice, and reached the final of the European cup in 1977. and Bayern Munich won the European Cup three times between 1973-76, as well as the Intercontinental cup (Now the FIFA club World Cup). Hamburger Sv also reached the final of the European Cup in 1979/80 and won the UEFA European Cup winners cup in 1977.

What’s the next big thing for the Bundesliga?

The Euro 2024 UEFA football championship in the men’s game takes place between 14/6-14/7/24. The tournament is played across 10 stadia of Bundesliga clubs, including Dortmund, by 24 national teams, including Scotland. This is the second time the cup has been hosted in Germany after 1988, however games were also held in Munich for the 2020 tournament which was played across Europe. In the club game Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are both in the semifinal of the Champions League and Bayer Leverkusen are in the final of the Europa League.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

One comment on “Celebrating 60 years of the Bundesliga (1964-2024)
  1. A splendid exhibition and a really interesting Q&A to support it. McFadyean is hugely knowledgeable.

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