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The temptations of capitalism

“WM 74. When football became modern”: This is the title of Kay Schiller’s book about the “reinvention of football” as a “global media event and lucrative commodity”. What does that have to do with Zeha. Just a small, fine anecdote. Nevertheless, the book is worth reading in its entirety (192 pages).

Even though the first sponsorship contract was only in 1976, with Coca-Cola, the sports shoe manufacturers Adidas and Puma fought hard for the Brazilian national soccer team and their superstar Pelé back in 1970 at the World Cup in Mexico. Even the referees tried to get them to wear the 3 Stripes boots with small gifts. Rudi Glöckner was one of these referees, the first and only German to date to referee a World Cup final: Brazil versus Italy in Mexico City in 1970.

Schiller is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Durham in northern England and editor of the journal Sport in History. In his book, he looks at the 1974 World Cup against the backdrop of the 1970s with the Yom Kippur War and the 1973 oil price shock, with the famous qualifying match between Chile and the Soviet Union, the second leg of which did not take place because Salvador Allende’s government in Chile had fallen and Allende was murdered. And last but not least, the first and only encounter between the two German national teams during the Cold War.

In his book, Schiller quotes the impartial bell ringer, who in his report for the East German football association emphasized having resisted the temptations of capitalism:

“During the referee training course, the West German shoe manufacturer Adidas, with the approval of FIFA, gave all referees a pair of football boots and a travel bag. A day after the boots were handed over, the Adidas representative came with a pre-printed form stating that the referees undertake to only use these boots during the World Cup. I refused the signature. All referees received a pair of running shoes after signing, but I didn’t. … Two days before the final, the owner of the Adidas sports shoe factory came to me during the FIFA reception and tried to persuade me to wear Adidas shoes to the final. This request was of course energetically rejected.”

Glöckner, writes Schiller, wore shoes made by East German Zeha. “Their trademark were two double stripes, which were arranged at an angle to each other.” Later, however, Schiller continues, the German Gymnastics and Sports Federation (DTSB), the East German counterpart to the German Sports Federation (DSB), even concluded a “total contract”. Adidas and “the three stripes became the trademark of the GDR athletes who competed in international competitions.”

A profound and enlightening book and a recommendation not only for those w

Kay Schiller: WM 74. Als der Fußball modern wurde
Berlin: Rotbuch 2014
192 Seiten. 14,95 Euro

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