Senior executives with Ruhr district rivals Dortmund and Schalke have both spoken out against the idea of playing Bundesliga matches abroad. This comes with Spain’s La Liga aiming to stage a league game in Miami.Borussia Dortmund chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke (pictured above, right) and Schalke’s managing director in charge of sport, Christian Heidel (above, left), told the Funke-Mediengruppe that the Bundesliga shouldn’t even consider moving games abroad.
“As far as I’m concerned, doing this would be detrimental to football and its foundation,” Heidel said.
“I am not a fan of the idea of the Bundesliga staging matches in another country,” Watzke said. “This will always be my opinion. I also don’t like the idea of the Champions League of European clubs being played in New York.”
At the same time, though, Watzke said that despite his personal opposition to the idea, he could see the Champions League final being played in the United States one day.
“I could imagine things like that happening,” he said. “Whether this will happen, I don’t know.
Heidel warned that such games being played in foreign countries could never generate the atmosphere of a stadium in Germany.
“The atmosphere in Germany is like in no other country,” he said. Dortmund and Schalke take 10,000 supporters with them when they play on the road. It’s all about the kind of feeling you get when you hang your (team) scarf out of the car window and away you go. It’s hard to do that on a flight to New York.”
The two executives were speaking in a joint interview with the paper newspaper published on Tuesday, just hours before both of their clubs kick off their Champions League seasons; Dortmund are in Bruges while Schalke play host to Porto.
La Liga deal
The idea that the Bundesliga could one day stage matches abroad has been a topic of discussion ever since Spain’s La Liga announced in August that it had signed a 15-year partnership agreement with international media group Relevant. The deal is aimed at promoting La Liga in North America, and could see league matches played in the United States or Canada. The league has since applied to move the January 26 Catalan derby between Girona and Barcelona to Miami. For the move to go ahead it would have to be approved by a number of footballing authorities, including the Spanish FA, UEFA and the North American confederation, CONCACAF.
However, earlier this month, the head of the DFL, which operates the Bundesliga, ruled out moving German competitive matches abroad.
‘Things will be different’ for German clubs in Europe
In Tuesday’s interview, Watzke also expressed optimism that the German teams in the Champions League and the Europa League would do better than they fared last season, when only Bayern Munich were able to advance deep into Europe.
Watzke argued that last season was a one-off: “Because the traditional Europa League qualifiers Leverkusen, Schalke and Gladbach took a year off and (German) clubs qualified that weren’t up to the task. With the teams that are in the Champions League and Europa League this year, things will be different.”
However, he also conceded that having gone winless and finishing last in their group in the Champions League last season, Dortmund were chief among Germany’s disappointments.
“The two draws against Nikosia were really embarrassing,” Watzke said. “There are no arguments, no excuses.”
The Funke-Mediengruppe publishes a number of German newspapers, including the Essen-based Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, which serves the Ruhr region, where both Dortmund and Schalke are located.
pfd/jcg (SID, dpa)