- Germany and Switzerland meet in the UEFA Nations League this week
- This year marks the 70th anniversary of Germany’s reintegration into world football
- FIFA.com tells the story of how the Swiss FA played an integral role in the process
When Germany and Switzerland take on each other in the UEFA Nations League group match on Tuesday night, players can expect the usual neighboring rivalries. What many of them may not know, however, is that one party is indebted to the other’s predecessors.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of Germany’s reintegration into world football, and it is a story that cannot be told without mentioning the support of the Swiss Football Association.
Come out in cold weather
After the Second World War, Germany was a pariah state and had to embark on a long and arduous task of rebuilding a nation, or more precisely two countries divided into East Germany on a par with the Soviets and West Germany siding with the Capitalist Bloc.
Both are shunned by the international community and excluded from official sports competitions. The 25th FIFA Congress in July 1946 confirmed the Executive Committee’s decision in 1945 to prohibit sporting relations between FIFA member associations and German associations and clubs, due to the absence of “a national organization that regulates football and is able to maintain relations with football. other state organizations ”and on the principle that sport and politics should never mingle.
The Swiss FA, however, argued, on the same principle, that politics should not influence sporting decisions, and that football can act as a tool for international reconciliation and help Germany’s young population to overcome its isolation. At the 26th FIFA Congress in July 1948, Swiss FA president Ernst Thommen submitted a motion that FIFA-affiliated associations be allowed to play friendly matches against German clubs. Congress pushed the matter back up to the Executive Committee to decide, and the Swiss FA was forced to reject countless invitations by German teams to play against Swiss clubs.
At the next Executive Committee meeting on 6 May 1949, the members split about the matter but were eventually granted temporary permission for the club from the FIFA member association to play a friendly match against the German club, provided they requested prior permission from the occupying forces. This is a significant victory for the Swiss FA and for football as a bridge builder between countries.
All or nothing
However, the Swiss FA did not stop there, and campaigned for the recovery of the newly reformed German FA (German Football Association, DFB). Thommen again used the democratic forum of the 27th FIFA Congress in June 1950 to submit a proposal for Congress to recognize the legality of the DFB and allow the resumption of full sporting relations between the clubs of FIFA’s member associations and German clubs. Although the proposal received support from various member associations, it was deemed to be determined by the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee duly debated the issue at its meeting on 23 September 1950 and unanimously approved the restoration of the DFB. That same day, Thommen sent a telegram to the DFB to inform them of the good news.
That is the gratitude for the President of the DFB, Dr. Peco Bauwens immediately returned the telegram, thanked Ernst Thommen and the Swiss FA, and invited the Swiss national team to play their first friendly against West Germany. The two associations wasted no time in organizing the game and, on November 22, 1950, West Germany played its first post-war match after years of cold weather. More than 100,000 spectators filled Neckarstadion Stuttgart to watch in delight as West Germany beat Switzerland 1-0.
The (rebirth) proud heritage of football
The Swiss FA’s belief in the power of football to heal divisions and bring about social cohesion is critical to the rebirth of the DFB and German football, and the rise of one of the world’s superpowers.
The West German national team was a focal point of German hopes and aspirations to restore the dignity of a humiliated and demoralized population during the difficult post-war years. Just four years after the Swiss FA’s successful intervention, West Germany achieved what was deemed impossible, winning the 1954 FIFA World Cup. Host country: Switzerland.
The venue for the final will forever be remembered by German football fans, as the West German victory became known as the “Miracle of Bern” (“das Wunder von Bern”).
Commenting on the 70th anniversary of the friendly match in Cologne, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said, “This warning is important because it shows how football brings people together and breaks down barriers. During one of the darkest times in human history, football gave people hope once again and, without the Swiss FA campaign, we would have probably never seen so many iconic players and magical moments in football history when we did. “
Indeed, ever since Fritz Walter and Co paved the way in ’54, lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy in Bern, the world has admired generation after generation of determined German teams and football fans around the world who have known the names of the captains who follow. following in Walter’s footsteps and lifting the FIFA World Cup Trophy: Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthaus, Philipp Lahm.
When the two sides meet in Cologne on Tuesday night, Germany will surely show a little mercy to their opponents. However, Switzerland’s important role in bringing football back to Germany and German football to the world must be celebrated.