Onus on govt, AIFF to lift Indian football: German league CEO
Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert feels that for Indian football to wake up from its slumber and make a mark in the sport, the push has to come from "within" the government and the AIFF.
Frankfurt: Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert feels that for Indian football to wake up from its slumber and make a mark in the sport, the push has to come from "within" the government and the AIFF.
Seifert, who heads the premier German football league with the highest average attendance in the world, hasn't ruled out a future association with India.
"We cannot come to India and change things overnight. It has to come from within, the government. The Indian FA has to take the initiative of building grassroots and youth development programmes," Seifert said during an interaction at the German Football League (DFL) headquarters in Frankfurt.
"We can do exchange programmes if you are really willing to work towards improving Indian football. Indian Super League is a great project, and we would be more than happy to be playing a role in India," he added.
The ISL have opened up new avenues for Indian football creating a buzz never felt before, but the national team's lacklustre performance remains a cause for concern.
Bundesliga has emerged as one of the world's most structured football leagues, thanks to DFL's professional set-up and relentless pursuit of excellence and community involvement.
"Over the last few years we are very happy with the development of Bundesliga. We still treat the league in growing mould.
"In the last season in 306 games the average crowd was 43,000. Cologne has 53,000 and Dortmund has a capacity of 81,359, and has been rated as the best football stadium in the world ahead of Bernabeu and Maracana by an English poll."
The 46-year-old chief executive tried to give an insight into the Bundesliga, which was founded in 1963.
"Over here it's more of real football. It's a question of philosophy, our aim is to just keep it that way and run it as a business model.
There are plenty of things Bundesliga offers, like "special atmosphere, a special connection between teams and fans".
"We are now number 2 in the world in terms of turnover. In 1997-98 we overtook England in the UEFA ranking.
The roots and connect with the society from where the league comes, is of paramount importance to the DFL administrators.
The Germans, according to Seifert, lay special emphasis on philosophy when it comes to football.
"The most important thing here is philosophy, not just money. It's very important to have the right philosophy.
"Football is in Germany's DNA. 75 percent of people says Bundesliga keeps the society together, it is a prestige object in Germany.
"There are 26,000 football clubs in Germany, 1,60,000 teams, that is 7 to 8 teams per club.
"It is entertainment plus excitement. For more than 30 years, it has been the highest scoring league in Europe, there is a unique fan and football culture in the world."
Seifert added, "15 of 23 World Cup winners still play in the Bundesliga. 53 percent of players are German in Bundesliga right now. In 2001, it was 35 percent."
Asked about the ownership pattern of Bundesliga clubs, Seifert said, "51 percent are owned by members of the club, they have their annual meeting. Other 49 percent can be purchased. Decision making lies with the members."