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Thursday, January 17, 2013
Pep arrival 'a knighthood' for Bundesliga

Stephan Uersfeld, Germany Correspondent

German media and football officials are rejoicing about the signing of Pep Guardiola, calling it a "knighthood" for the Bundesliga.

• Hunter: Pep picks Munich
• Blog: Willkommen Guardiola!

Just before the resumption of the league calendar on Friday, the international perception of German football changed dramatically with the signing of former Barcelona manager Guardiola.

Not so long ago German football had reached a low ebb. Germany had lost their fourth Champions League spot to the Premier League and, despite reaching the 2002 World Cup final, the German national team was an over-aged and far from competitive team. Bayern's Champions League win in 2001 was the last time a German club won a European competition, and the Bundesliga lost ground on the big three leagues in Spain, England and Italy.

But over the past few years German football has made an astonishing comeback. A young German national side played an inspired 2010 World Cup and Bayern Munich reached the Champions League final twice in the space of three years. In the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund are currently the unexpected back-to-back title holders and have pushed Bayern to a new level, finally facing a real competitor. In 2013 three German clubs have reached the knockout stage of Champions League, the Bundesliga is the best attended football league in the world and the 50+1 ownership rule is being praised throughout Europe. With the appointment of Guardiola as the new Bayern coach, Bundesliga officials are hoping that the league will finally be given the attention it deserves.

"You can do nothing but congratulate FC Bayern for the signing of Pep Guardiola," German Football League director Andres Rettig said. "This once again shows the status of the Bundesliga. And with Guardiola the international interest in the league will increase even more."

According to a sponsors study in March 2012, Germany are only fourth behind Premier League, La Liga and Serie A in terms of international TV rights. The biggest earner, the Premier League, cashes in some €562 millon per year, but the German Bundesliga is held at a mere €71.6 million. The TV rights will next be put out to tender in time for the 2015/2016 season.

"That's a big thing for the league," Dortmund CEO Aki Watzke said. "It will give the league more reputation internationally. When I heard about it, I was quite surprised. I know how hard it is to get a coach like him."

The online outlet of German news magazine Spiegel continued: "This move had been unthinkable for a long time. Now it showcases the healthy development of German football, of course thanks to this pacemaker from Munich. This coup radiates into foreign countries and directly into the faces of the officials at Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris St-Germain."

Sueddeutsche Zeitung said it was "a sensational coup" and explained Guardiola chose Bayern and the Bundesliga over money.

Weekly Die Zeit headlined: "Guardiola - a knighthood for the Bundesliga", commenting that the Bundesliga could be proud of the decision as it was "an approval of their work and philosophy.

"It is not only about the money. Guardiola will be able to afford his Tapas at Bayern, but it is to be believed the billionaires from Abu Dhabi or Russia who flood the Premier League with their money, were able to pay more.

"The Catalan decided for the best package. For a healthy club that can win the Champions League. For packed and modern stadiums, for great atmosphere, for safe standing, for on time salaries and for the 50+1 rule, which limits the influence of weak-minded investors," the paper said in jubilant tone, summing up the new found confidence in Germany.




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