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The History of German Football

Looking at the recent triumph of German football, it becomes hard to believe how football set out in the nation. Here's the history.

Last updated: 11.04.2019
The History of German Football | Sports Social Blog

Football was never planned to be a big money sport. The game was always celebrated more for its raw, bare and uncontaminated series of offerings. Similarly, the likes of players kicking a ball used to fascinate the spectacles in the late 1800s. Football originated in Germany during the late 1800s. Looking at the recent triumph of German football, it becomes hard to believe how football set out in the nation.


Early German football had no organization dedicated primarily for football. Since the game originated in the country, there were almost no clubs dedicated to the sport. Most of the clubs started as a multi-sport association. For example, take TSV München 1860. In the club’s name, the T stands for Turen (gymnastics), which was the club’s main sport in 1860. Moreover, the club’s football division was not actually created until 1899. In fact, the first ball played by Germans in Germany was allegedly in Braunschweig in 1874. Football reached Germany a bit early. So early in fact, that the English were not yet done with the various codes of football.

The German Football Club of Hannover, founded in 1878, is often accredited with the title of being the first football club in Germany. However, what they played in Hannover was rugby. Even as late as 1900, the men who founded FC Nürnberg began playing with an oval ball. Confusion over the actual rules of football was widespread in Germany. During the initial stages of the sport, the countrymen faced a plethora of complications like finding boots and footballs to practice football. Complicating that, the greatest challenge of that time was also in finding a place to play. It’s quite astonishing to believe that the Germans didn’t want the people to practice football. The ones practicing were often termed as ‘Kicking traitors to the fatherland’. Little did the generation know, football would turn out to be such a big affair in the nation in the coming years.  In fact, those who played football were scorned and harassed by the German public. In the end, military parade grounds, which were spacious and unused on Sundays, are where the earliest football games took place. Funny, how the entire scenario advanced thereafter.

Despite opposition to the game, leagues began to start around the country. One of the most notable league being in Berlin. Regardless, English influence proved to be the main reason for football’s establishment. For example, in 1896, a team from Duisburg went to England to play four games, which, due to a large number of goals conceded, was somewhat of a disaster. While in 1899, a squad of English professional players toured Germany, beating every team emphatically in the process. 28 January 1900 dates to be a significant revolution in the history of German football. On this winter’s day, 86 clubs came together in Leipzig to form the Deutscher Fussball Bund (DFB). Weirdly, one of the rules set down in the early days of the DFB was that “no player is allowed to lie down to rest” during a game!


The establishment of a new top division league in place of several regional leagues revolutionized German football. The first Bundesliga matches kicked off on 24 August 1963, and Borussia Dortmund’s Friedhelm “Timo” Konietzka did not waste any time by scoring in the first minute of the match against Werder Bremen. FC Köln, with their inspirational young playmaker Wolfgang Overath, became the inaugural Bundesliga champions. Until 1970, no club managed to win the prestigious championship trophy for a second time.  FC Nürnberg was relegated as reigning champions in 1968–69, a reversal of fortune that has remained unique to this day. The iconic Uwe Seeler, a stalwart for Hamburger SV from 1953 to 1972, was the first top scorer of the new league. The Bundesliga has delighted generations of domestic and international football fans since its foundation. Each decade has its own heroes and stories that could fill entire bookshelves.

First Live match broadcasted in the Bundesliga

Since day 1, it was established that football in Germany was here to stay. As I mentioned earlier, Football wasn’t always a big money game, with extravagant wages and outrageous television deals. The Germans evolved as a footballing nation and have repeatedly dominated the world of football with 4 starts scripted on their jerseys. Football in Germany has become a way of life. The rise of Bundesliga has surely led a constructive path in structuring the game. The likes of the budding youth players and the fan engagement forecast that football is only to evolve in the nation. However, their recent branding tagline - “ Football as it’s meant to be” has done justice to every word, considering the increasing intensity and ambiance of each game.

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