Bundesliga 50: the 1970s ⋆ An Old International

Bundesliga 50: the 1970s

Part 2 of the anniversary series Bundesliga 50 has a look at the 1970s, a period during which German football came to the fore once more but only after some scandalous revelations were shaken off. The 1970s were arguably Germany’s most successful decade, in club as well as international terms. Never before and not since has Germany dominated the European football scene as they did between 1972 and 1980.

It all started with a tape: The Bribery Scandal 1971

The shiny side of the Bundesliga was paired with a dark one in 1971, when the first scandal was made public. The bribery scandal shook the Bundesliga to its core and it took almost the whole decade for all investigations to be finished. It all started with a tape that was played by Horst-Gregorio Canellas to the audience at his 50th. birthday party on 6 June 1971. The tape contained secret recordings Canellas has made with other club representatives and players to secure that his club, Kickers Offenbach, would not be relegated. These attempts were futile but it turned out that buying and selling the results of games was a widespread practice among German professional players. In total, 18 games were manipulated and 52 players, 2 coaches and 6 club officials, including Canellas himself, were banned from football, either for life or for at least 2 years. Most players were reprieved but had to pay a hefty penalty nonetheless. Those players included were the internationals such as Klaus Fichtel, Klaus Fischer and Reinhard ‘Stan’ Libuda, all of Schalke and some of the first ‘stars’ the Bundesliga has produced.

The scandal also brought to light that Canellas contacted the DFB as he found out himself that something was going wrong, only to fall on deaf ears. The scandal had enormous dimensions as two thirds of clubs in the Bundesliga were involved, while it wasn’t clear if the other clubs were lily whites. With the World Cup coming to Germany, critics stated that the DFB acted too quick and superficial with the forthcoming tournament in mind. However, with a historian’s view of events, it is clear that the scandal had a distinct cathartic function for German football. It brought to the fore a new generation of talent, which was to dominate the decade. For the public however, the scandal threw a negative light on professional football that was to last for the decade but surprisingly only influenced the attendance figures in 1971/72 with 18700 and the all-time low of 17400 on average for the 1972/73 season.

All About Gladbach

The 1970s were arguably Germany’s most successful decade at club and international level. Bayern Munich and Borussia M

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