THE BUNDESLIGA FAQ  98/99 (October)
Chen Yang, Berti Vogts, Helmut Kohl, and Bayern and the Superleague 
(Click on 'The Bundesliga FAQ' for an index of the 2-monthly updates)

Who is Chen Yang? The first Chinese player in the Bundesliga as an indicator for the future of Asian football? How did he start?
What's the matter with the 'Mannschaft'? The German national team shaking up after a disappointing France 98. Berti Vogts quit after only two more matches, a coincidence with the departure of Helmut Kohl...
Will Bayern break away? the Superleague is discussed hot-headed while Bayern is unsatisfied with how the Bundesliga is run. Interests from outside football play its part...

Who is Chen Yang? The first Chinese player in Bundesliga... 
 Chen Yang (the way his name is written in Germany, first name, family name) is the first Chinese player in Bundesliga and to the surprise of many he made it to a regular starter for his team Eintracht Frankfurt. 

 On one hand he is profiting from the problems Frankfurt has in attack, on the other hand his talent has become obvious to everybody. He seems to be fast, with good technical skills, quite good ball protection and a precise shot. He scored 2 goals in 6 matches but often was the lone fighter in Frankfurt attack. 

 But there are also problems: 
1) Frankfurt did not too well yet, winning only once. 
2) He is not yet used to the physical kind of game played in Germany 
3) A big problem: the communication. For the other players it is almost impossible to communicate with him. He does not speak any German or English or French and nobody speaks Chinese. So often he is running different than expected. Also it must be tough for him he can not talk anything with the other players. There is a translator when the coach talks too him but it remains a problem. 

 The hope: Bum Kun Cha, the South Corean coach at the World Cup 98 once began 
at Frankfurt with similar problems and became a Bundesliga star. 

 Chen Yang was send more or less to try and gather experience for Chinese football that has a profissional league since a few years ago. Chinas U21 looks quite promising and themselves playing rather rough for an Asian team. Chen is 24 and if he's no exception like Bum Kun Cha had been, he soon might be seen as a first sign for a forthcoming emergence of a new big football nation. A new one? The one that assumingly already played the game some tenthousand years ago...


What's the matter with the 'Mannschaft'? The German national team shaking up... 
 Football and politics. Some theories suggest a coherence between common politics, common thinking in society, media, and football. The ties between German politics and German national team were even visible when chancelor Helmut Kohl and Bundestrainer Berti Vogts became almost friends and started to publically compare their jobs and problems. They temporarily were coached by the same rethorics trainer and reacted similar in press conferences. With the sole but important difference that Helmut Kohl is a huge and Berti Vogts a quite small person. And that football journalists are even bigger experts knowing everything better. 
 After 16 years Kohl, the country lay paralysed, incabale of any change. Any reforms were wished but then unwanted, blocked with an apokalyptic scenario painted on the wall and became mediocre mini-adjustments. Although incabable to fight unemployment Kohl got reelected 1994. And so did Berti Vogts after the miserable 1994 World Cup. Vogts kicked out some old players and transferred responsibility to players that had grown up in a climate determined from the more liberal and progressive pre-Kohl era, when many young people were brought up to reflect, critisize, and take over responsibility. This player generation managed to win the European title 1996.  
 But key player Matthias Sammer was hurt and his replacement Olaf Thon not sure to be fit for the World Cup 98. Berti Vogts began doubting and returned to the extremely conservative football and team structures of 1994. The responsibilities were drawn away from players like Moeller, players who were weakened by this and made scapegoats instead. This football had to fail at France as it was no complete package of abilities anymore. 
 Like Kohl (problems triggered by the German unity) Berti Vogts claimed some external problems (Bundesliga and Bosman) to be responsible for a misery. And like Kohl, Berti Vogts still claimed to go on. And again like Kohl he claimed, after all the failures, he now had the right plan to readjust the course of Germany (German football). But media here and there were tired to sell the same old story, and the people and fans were tired to live on dull.  
 Although the rest of German football association has crept and still creeps on, like nothing could require a change, Berti Vogts himself retired. Despite still being backed by the FA's ('DFB') boss Egidius Braun, the press criticism after two embarissing friendlies became so cynical, Berti Vogts, who as an honest and brave man had worked for little money, found it too much to bear on.  
 Only a few weeks later Helmut Kohl was blown out of his job by the 1998 election. A country seems to awake from numbing. Some hope and belief at least among a part of the people could become reinstalled, that movement might be possible again. 
 It might be the same in football. And Germany might be back sooner or later.

Will Bayern break away? The Superleague and the gap between Bayern and the rest of Bundesliga... 
 Do not worry: Bayern will not break away from Bundesliga in the next years. The Bundesliga is still number 1 thing, matches are played on the weekend and Bayern spectators are coming from far away. This means large crowds in Bundesliga on Saturdays, smaller crowds in European cups on Wednesdays. But emphasis might change as the Bayern, like media tycoon Leo Kirch or media trust Bertelsmann, like to install digital TV by using some vehicle. And pressure might come from outside driving Bayern into a partnership to maintain their professonial future orientated approach to become or remain one of the ten European top clubs.  
 Bundesliga clubs and association officials have threatened with exclusion from Bundesliga if Bayern (and Dortmund) join a formed closed European league excluding them. Of course the powers behind a restructuring of European football, and this is valid for the business people as for the big clubs themselves, are not stupid, so they start to offer something to everybody: A half-open structure or a completely open with some nets for the big ones. They want the foot in the door, the rest can be done later.  
 The development seems inevitable (readers in German can read the analysis The Shot That Passed Right Through The Net has made some years ago:  Off the pitch is on the pitch the development has been predicted), so what can you do than join it. 
 In the actual update of The Shot That Passed Right Through the Net, there is a little more detailed essay on the Superleague topic (in the series Football 2002 - visions) <link should be here by October 10th, otherwise check The Shot That Passed Right Through The Net frontpage> 

 In the following a short background summery for the German case and league structure: 

 When 1963 the Bundesliga came into being, there was no such league structure as today. There was a handful of big clubs of quite equal meaning such as Dortmund, Schalke, Köln (Cologne), Hamburg, Nürnberg, Hertha BSC Berlin, Kaiserslautern. Consequently in the first 7 years, the Bundesliga saw 7 different champions: 
1.FC Köln, Werder Bremen, München 1860, Eintracht Braunschweig, 1.FC Nürnberg, Bayern München, Borussia Mönchengladbach. 
 In the following 28 years only 4 new names were added to that list: 
Hamburger SV, VfB Stuttgart, 1.FC Kaiserslautern, Borussia Dortmund. 
In those 28 years Bayern München won 12 championships. 
 Bayern had managed to convert their exceptional team of the 60's/70s into club structures, using the knowledge and abilities of that outstanding and intelligent player generation. In merely all eras they had a counterpart, but neither of those clubs had been able to conserve success. Borussia Mönchengladbach, Werder Bremen, and Borussia Dortmund, for different reason had just seen an exceptional era (Dortmund might be too early to judge on here). Hamburger SV who had all possibilities did not manage to convert into success maintaining structures and remains a sick giant yet. 
 Gaps developed between Bayern, the usual counterpart (f.e. Dortmund), a group of clubs who often play European Cups (f.e. Stuttgart), a group of clubs who play midfield and fight relegation (f.e. Bochum), and small upcomers who manage to survive a few years by individual concepts in the Bundesliga (f.e. Homburg, Freiburg, St.Pauli). 

 From Bayerns point of view the situation is comparable to the situation before Bundesliga came into being. In Regional leagues there had been similar structures. Perharps such a structure is a normal development (might be investigated on later). So the top teams see themselves in competion with other top clubs from other leagues rather than with the bottom teams of their own one. In matches against Bochum, Bayern can not win much, they can only lose. 

 Now Bayern will probably be no driving force in creating such a league, but a lot of factors come into play now: 
1)  The inside Germany factor: 
Although Bayern is so meaningful in German football, in boards they are outnumbered by clubs with different interests. Bayern, like other big clubs, does not feel as a product of football anymore, it feels as the main producer. Polemically: It feels like a rich voter who is annoyed that he has only one vote and is outnumbered by the poor it once emerged from. And has now been given a tool to blackmail the others by the threat to leave them. 
2) The outside Germany factor: 
Most important international clubs become driving forces: Real Madrid is suffering from debts and needs money urgently if it wants to keep the standard. Barcelona is not doing much better. Manchester United has to take care of share prices and cannot risk a no. Now the club becomes part of media tycoon interests. Already part of political and media business interests is AC Milan with Silvio Berlusconi running the club. If Bayern refuses when such clubs under pressure decide to run such a league, they will be in danger to drop to second European class.  
3) The football becomes business factor: 
It is not a sports or game competition anymore. No making the competition tough, and the winner is the best. The competition will become softened. But only on the green gras. The real pitch is the stock market. Whatever is done, this will be the real table. And this takes away from the football we knew. The goal is to develop structures that make the competitor weak outside the football field, that guarantuees more turnover with less risk. Also football becomes target because it is needed for other business activities, for example the political and business interests of media tycoons. 

 The development is inevitable: Yet there are restrictions in football, that now, when football has become business are not according to laws, especially cartel laws. But those will fall. And the process is irreversible, it has already moved too far. The next 20 years will change it all. It will be an exciting period of change, whether you like it or not and Bayern will probably part of it. More about it in that Football 2002-visions essay <link should be here by October 10th, otherwise check The Shot That Passed Right Through The Net frontpage> 

 Only one more: If it will develop to a closed company (not necessarily now, this might take a lot of years and probably will remain half-open), think of this: great clubs have been made by the process. When the Bundesliga was formed 1963, Bayern was not among the 16 teams. Had it been a closed group, the Bayern we know today had never existed. Now they have the power to blow up the whole thing.