German Bundesliga Celebrates 50th Season This Weekend
The late Timo Konietzka scored the first-ever Bundesliga goal in 1963 for Werder Bremen.
It was a historic moment for Germany. The Bundesliga was formed and years of pain seemed to be in the past.
Forty-nine years on, Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen will go head-to-head on the opening weekend of this historic campaign.
German football has had something of a chaotic history since the early years of Association Football in the late 1890s. Largely inspired by the English, the likes of William Townley were the first pioneers of the game in Germany—with Townley, in particular, going on to enjoy incredible success with FC Bayern and Greuther Furth.
But the difference between Germany and their European counterparts was that the game was still played on an amateur basis. The leagues were also organised regionally in the build-up to the Second World War which essentially wiped the game for a few seasons, as well as the blockade from the Third Reich which prevented sports clubs from forming.
In the wake of devastation in 1945, it took time for Germany to cope with the rebuilding of their nation and sports were still outlawed by the authorities. Slowly but surely, things began to change and regional competitions continued up until 1963-64.
Before that, the Germans became World champions in 1954 with a squad full of amateur footballers, earning a small amount compared to players in Italy or Spain.
After years of pushing through reform, the German FA soon gave the green light for the Bundesliga to be formed in June 1962 in Dortmund. The first 16 clubs were selected from across Germany so that each region of the country was represented.
While many European leagues had been formed from the start of the 20th century, German football was beginning to take huge strides forward with FC Bayern, predominantly, appearing in the latter rounds of European competition during the 1970s.
Now, the Bundesliga is one of the most recognised sporting brands in the world. German football is the envy of many with an excellent licensing system to prevent reckless spending and the '50+1' rule of supporter ownership.
Season 2012-13 has so much to look forward to: the celebrations of the 50th campaign, Hamburg SV's 125th anniversary and the fascinating competition in the division.
This year, more than any, is one to savour.
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