Dear readers of Fear the Wall.
I’ve always been a firm believer in the saying “speak your mind”, and I would probably go as far as to say, it’s one of those sayings, that I live by. As good and ideal as that may sound, speaking your mind may not always be the best option, because society.
Within the world of football, opinions are often not as welcomed as in other social instances. Football is fueled by emotions (and oil money), and emotions are always running high in football communities. Football club comment sections are some of the most ruthless places, that cyberspace has to offer, and certainly no one would dare to present a controversial opinion, should they have one.
Now - I don’t know if it’s the same here at Fear the Wall, but if I have to believe researchers who have studied online communities for most of their life, I would assume that it is. Therefore, I would like to present you all with this one golden opportunity. This post is for all those who haven’t yet dared to come forth with whatever unpopular opinion they might have. That one (or two) opinion(s) you’ve desperately tried to shove into the darkest corner of your mind, because you wouldn’t dare to think about the consequences that might follow.
Ladies and gentlemen, and everything in between. In this post, I offer refuge to you all. In this space, we don’t conform to whatever norms society is shoving down our throats. In this very space, we will set ourselves free by truly speaking our minds.
Let’s look into each other’s eyes (or just intensely look at each other’s usernames). Let’s open up to each other, and maybe we can broaden each other’s horizons. And if someone want to physically fight each other as a result of this post (and the comment section that will follow), I kindly ask you to coordinate it by yourselves internally, thank you in advance.
To kick things off, the writers and I will start by presenting our own controversial BVB- or football-related opinions. You may use the following as inspiration, and remember, the aim is to bring some perspective and nuance into something that I mostly consider an echo chamber. Let’s have a sober conversation, folks!
Anders: The European Super League is a Reasonable Idea
What is the one thing that every football club in the world wishes for? And no, it’s not the Champions League trophy, because that’s not realistic for everyone. It’s stability. Just take a look at a club like FC Barcelona. They have been financially unstable for more years than I can count, and the same goes for clubs like Juventus and Tottenham.
Just think about this. A regular business could NEVER run the way that football clubs are run. It simply would not be allowed. Elite football club privilege is a real thing, and UEFA could not care less, as long as they get their paycheck.
Currently, Europe’s elite clubs are exponentially growing themselves larger and larger, leaving the medium-sized and smaller clubs behind.
Here’s some examples of how a Super League could have a positive impact:
- It could secure financial stability within Europe’s elite clubs.
- It could create a more competitive footballing landscape
- And lastly, it could be better than UEFA (it probably won’t, but let me dream)
This is just some of the effects it could have. People seem to think, that this is only a cash grab, and while it might be, it has potential for so much more. I 100% agree that the Super League idea is a bit flawed, and it honestly doesn’t fit into the current landscape, but that’s mostly because UEFA want to keep their seats.
It’s only “selling your club” to join the Super League, if you want it to be. The Champions League is also a Super League, and people criticized it back then as well, and look where we are now, huh?
Joey: Peter Stöger was a Good Coach
We’ve all seen those Dortmund managerial charts that suggest Stöger wasn't great, while always reminiscing on how amazing Klopp was. Well I want to remind folks of the circumstances of which Peter Stöger joined Dortmund and then coached them well. It was 2017/18 season, “the season of the Peters”, and when Bosz was sacked after an abysmal run of form, Dortmund hired Stöger, who had been sacked by FC Köln less than a week prior. There were a lot of critics then, and BVB was sitting in 8th place approaching the winter break. Stöger didn't win any titles with Dortmund, he was never meant to. He was brought in as a caretaker with only the remainder of the season on his contract. Stöger was put in charge of a very out-of-form Dortmund and steadied them enough to qualify for the Champions League. (on the final match day) All-in-all, Peter Stöger was good manager.
Sean: The Bundesliga isn’t *that* special, and has a gatekeeping problem
Don’t get me wrong: I love the Bundesliga. I love Germany, I love German fan culture, and I love Dortmund’s fan culture especially. That being said, I find that a huge portion of Bundesliga fans, at least in the circles that I run in, act like the mere existence of fans at all is some great unique tradition that’s entirely exclusive to the Bundesliga.
If there’s one phrase commonly used by commentators that grinds my gears, it’s “This is what makes the Bundesliga so unique,” because 99.9999999% of the time, it is being commentated over something that is found in absolutely every sports league in the world. When I hear sentiments like this, I wonder if the person saying it has ever actually watched a league outside of Germany? It’s not like Germany is the only country that has fans that sing, or fans that jump. Go watch a game in Ligue 1 in the Derby du Nord between Lille and RC Lens; I promise you will see no shortage of passion.
It annoys me because many Bundesliga fans will downplay criticisms of the league, especially those made by outside fans, by saying that those fans just don’t appreciate everything that’s special about the Bundesliga. This presumptuous mindset actually betrays a similar level of ignorance about what other leagues have to offer.
This might seem like a petty complaint that ultimately doesn’t matter all that much, but I think this type of mentality has serious repercussions for the Bundesliga, and its ability to appeal to broader audiences in Europe and around the world. At the end of the day, every sports league has fans, all of whom are passionate, but Bundesliga fundamentalists have somehow convinced themselves that the league is so pristine and so exceptional that they will instinctively react with fervent hostility and self-righteousness at the mere suggestion that the league be changed in any way.
For instance, I personally don’t think 50+1 should be repealed, but I also don’t think doing so would lead to the total annihilation of the league as we know it. Yet the way some fans react to anybody, whether a newcomer Bundesliga fan or an outside fan, suggesting this change is almost always with immediate derision. Such attitudes have led to an environment where orthodoxy and stagnation have seen the league fall behind the rest of Europe in international competitiveness, internal competitiveness, and global awareness entirely.
Even the Bundesliga’s motto, “Football as it’s meant to be,” I find preachy and more than a little condescending. Football isn’t “meant” to be anything: you get out of it what you want to get out of it. If you want cutthroat competition, that’s fine. If you don’t care about competition and just want get sloshed and sing songs with your friends, that’s okay too.
While I understand that there are some who would say that they would prefer to keep the Bundesliga as is even at the expense of competitiveness, I don’t actually buy the idea that the Bundesliga can’t be competitive, internally and externally, and grow globally while staying true to its roots. The Bundesliga is an amazing product that will naturally attract people, as long as we embrace them with open arms.
Paul: The Premier League is Actually Better
Get that little chip on your shoulder ready... Someone mentioned English football! This feels like it really shouldn’t be controversial, given that it is blatantly obvious, but a minority (or at least I hope it’s a minority) of folks are willing to blind themselves with their own stupidity, and convince themselves that actually the Premier League isn’t a better league.
To be clear, when I say “better”, I only mean with regard to the overall quality of each league. How you measure the betterness of any league is really entirely subjective (I’m a big fan of Ligue 1, so clearly I just love football as pure chaos). There’s tons about the Bundesliga that I really enjoy, and in some senses I’d argue it is superior to the Premier League, but when it comes to the football played? Come on folks, the Premier League is just better. Stop embarrassing yourselves.
Let us hear YOUR controversial opinions!
What do you think about our takes? Do you have one yourself? We invite lurkers and commenters alike to post their most controversial opinion in the comments!