Soccer - Lawsuit Against the Dfl and the Dfb

By: Emeli Dean

There is a lawsuit against the German Football Association (DFB) and the German Football League (DFL). The Federal Cartel Office charges the two organizations for forbidden convention apropos the search for sponsors. This is considered as an offense, since the DFB and the DFL are competitors and they limit the competition by making an agreement. The Federal Cartel Office is the German authority of competition and they have the function of protecting it.

In 2006 the DFB was planning to appeal to the Train PLC concerning the Women Football World Cup. The company already has a three-year contract as main sponsor with the German Club HerthaBSC which ends in 2009. For this reason; the DFB deemed it right to inform the management about their plan. According to the Federal Cartel office, this alone displays an anti-competitive action.

The central offices of both organizations were searched thoroughly already at the end of February by investigators of the Federal Cartel Office who confiscated batch documents. At the same time; there was an information blackout against the functionaries of both organizations declared, that means they are not allowed anymore to talk to each other about sponsors. Back then it was explained that there will be a fine into the millions if they offend against this requirement. There is talk of up to 10 percent of the annual sales, which would be around 175 million Euro for the DFL and around 8 million Euro for the DFB. The fine could also be deducted personally from DFB president Theo Zwanziger and DFL president Reinhard Rauball who denies this information: "There has never been an information blackout against me."

At the same time there is an inspection about the legitimacy of the central marketing of the Bundesliga TV rights for the coming up season. As a result the broadcast for the international games of the German men national team after the European Cup 2008 in Austria and Switzerland are at risk. The broadcast for the Women Football World Cup is at risk as well. So far it is not even sure that it will be taking place, because if the current practice of the search for the sponsors can't be implemented, the hosting of the event in Germany may not be ensured and may also be returned to the World Association FIFA.

Last Thursday the Federal Cartel Office announced that there won't be a stumbling block to the broadcasting of the DFB Cup final games between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich on April 19th in Berlin, such as the broadcasting of the international games against Belarus on May 27th in Kaiserslautern and the game against Serbia on May 31st in Gelsenkirchen. DFB spokesman Harald Stegner declared that the cartel office informed in a letter that there are no antitrust concerns for these games. All further details are indefinite at the moment.

DFB General Secretary Wolfgang Niersbach appeared indignant: "This is a charge for the DFB management, the reprovals are absolutely absurd." He explained that even the German Olympic Committee and the German sports aid merchandise together as well.

Federal Minister of Interior Wolfgang Schauble, who is also in charge of the sports branch, lends both organizations his support. He shows fully comprehension for the two organizations and explained that the sport and the football shouldn't be regulated by the laws of the marketplace and competition.

New accusations appeared: The DFB is rumored to exert leverage on the Federal Cartel Office to have the correspondent in charge of the proceedings against the organization displaced immediately effective. The president of the Cartel Office denies this and says the transfer into a different department exclusive traces back to personal problems within the department and was not caused by political pressure. The DFB explained as well that there hasn't been any pressure from their side.

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