|Organising body||Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL)|
|Founded||24 August 1963|
|Number of teams||18|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||2. Bundesliga|
|Current champions||Bayern Munich (29th title) |
|Most championships||Bayern Munich (29 titles)|
|TV partners||List of broadcasters|
|Current: 2020-21 Bundesliga|
The Bundesliga (German: ['b?nd?s?li:?a] ; lit. 'Federal League'), sometimes referred to as the Fußball-Bundesliga ([?fu:sbal-]) or 1. Bundesliga ([?e:st?-]), is a professional association football league in Germany. At the top of the German football league system, the Bundesliga is Germany's primary football competition. The Bundesliga comprises 18 teams and operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the 2. Bundesliga. Seasons run from August to May. Most games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, with a few games played on weekdays. All of the Bundesliga clubs qualify for the DFB-Pokal. The winner of the Bundesliga qualifies for the DFL-Supercup.
Fifty-six clubs have competed in the Bundesliga since its founding. Bayern Munich has won the title 29 times, the most among Bundesliga clubs. However, the Bundesliga has seen other champions, with Borussia Dortmund, Hamburger SV, Werder Bremen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, and VfB Stuttgart most prominent among them. The Bundesliga is one of the top national leagues, ranked fourth in Europe according to UEFA's league coefficient ranking for the 2020-21 season, based on performances in European competitions over the past five seasons. The Bundesliga is the number one football league in the world in terms of average attendance; out of all sports, its average of 45,134 fans per game during the 2011-12 season was the second-highest of any sports league in the world after the American National Football League. The Bundesliga is broadcast on television in over 200 countries.
The Bundesliga was founded in 1962 in Dortmund and the first season started in 1963. The structure and organisation of the Bundesliga, along with Germany's other football leagues, have undergone frequent changes. The Bundesliga was founded by the Deutscher Fußball-Bund (English: German Football Association), but is now operated by the Deutsche Fußball Liga (English: German Football League).
The Bundesliga is composed of two divisions: the 1. Bundesliga (although it is rarely referred to with the First prefix), and, below that, the 2. Bundesliga (2nd Bundesliga), which has been the second tier of German football since 1974. The Bundesligen (plural) are professional leagues. Since 2008, the 3. Liga (3rd League) in Germany has also been a professional league, but may not be called Bundesliga because the league is run by the German Football Association (DFB) and not, as are the two Bundesligen, by the German Football League (DFL).
Below the level of the 3. Liga, leagues are generally subdivided on a regional basis. For example, the Regionalligen are currently made up of Nord (North), Nordost (Northeast), Süd (South), Südwest (Southwest) and West divisions. Below this are thirteen parallel divisions, most of which are called Oberligen (upper leagues) which represent federal states or large urban and geographical areas. The levels below the Oberligen differ between the local areas. The league structure has changed frequently and typically reflects the degree of participation in the sport in various parts of the country. In the early 1990s, changes were driven by the reunification of Germany and the subsequent integration of the national league of East Germany.
Every team in the two Bundesligen must have a licence to play in the league, or else they are relegated into the regional leagues. To obtain a licence, teams must be financially healthy and meet certain standards of conduct as organisations.
As in other national leagues, there are significant benefits to being in the top division:
The 1. Bundesliga is financially strong, and the 2. Bundesliga has begun to evolve in a similar direction, becoming more stable organizationally and financially, and reflecting an increasingly higher standard of professional play.
Internationally, the most well-known German clubs include Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, Hamburger SV, VfB Stuttgart, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen. Hamburger SV was the only club to have played continuously in the Bundesliga since its foundation, until 12 May 2018, when the club was relegated for the first time.
In the 2008-09 season, the Bundesliga reinstated an earlier German system of promotion and relegation, which had been in use from 1981 until 1991:
From 1992 until 2008, a different system was used, in which the bottom three finishers of the Bundesliga had been automatically relegated, to be replaced by the top three finishers in the 2. Bundesliga. From 1963 until 1981 two, or later three, teams had been relegated from the Bundesliga automatically, while promotion had been decided either completely or partially in promotion play-offs.
The season starts in early August and lasts until late May, with a winter break of six weeks (mid-December through to the end of January). In recent years, games have been played on Saturdays (five games beginning at 3:30 pm and one game beginning at 6:30 pm) and Sundays (one game beginning at 3:30 pm and one game at 5:30 pm). A new television deal in 2006 reintroduced a Friday game (beginning at 8:30 pm).
Prior to the formation of the Bundesliga, German football was played at an amateur level in a large number of sub-regional leagues until, in 1949, part-time (semi-) professionalism was introduced and only five regional Oberligen (Premier Leagues) remained. Regional champions and runners-up played a series of playoff matches for the right to compete in a final game for the national championship. On 28 January 1900, a national association, the Deutscher Fußball Bund (DFB) had been founded in Leipzig with 86 member clubs. The first recognised national championship team was VfB Leipzig, who beat DFC Prague 7-2 in a game played at Altona on 31 May 1903.
Through the 1950s, there were continued calls for the formation of a central professional league, especially as professional leagues in other countries began to draw Germany's best players away from the semi-professional domestic leagues. At the international level, the German game began to falter as German teams often fared poorly against professional teams from other countries. A key supporter of the central league concept was national team head coach Sepp Herberger who said, "If we want to remain competitive internationally, we have to raise our expectations at the national level."[This quote needs a citation]
Meanwhile, in East Germany, a separate league was established with the formation of the DS-Oberliga (Deutscher Sportausschuss Oberliga) in 1950. The league was renamed the Football Oberliga DFV in 1958 and was generally referred to simply as the DDR-Liga or DDR-Oberliga. The league fielded 14 teams with two relegation spots.
The defeat of the national team by Yugoslavia (0-1) in a 1962 World Cup quarter-final game in Chile was one impetus (of many) towards the formation of a national league. At the annual DFB convention under new DFB president Hermann Gösmann (elected that very day) the Bundesliga was created in Dortmund at the Westfalenhallen on 28 July 1962 to begin play starting with the 1963-64 season.
At the time, there were five Oberligen (premier leagues) in place representing West Germany's North, South, West, Southwest, and Berlin. East Germany, behind the Iron Curtain, maintained its separate league structure. 46 clubs applied for admission to the new league. 16 teams were selected based on their success on the field, economic criteria and representation of the various Oberligen.
The first Bundesliga games were played on 24 August 1963. Early favourite 1. FC Köln was the first Bundesliga champion (with 45:15 points) over second place clubs Meidericher SV and Eintracht Frankfurt (both 39:21).
Following German reunification, the East German leagues were merged into the West German system. Dynamo Dresden and F.C. Hansa Rostock were seeded into the top-tier Bundesliga division, with other clubs being sorted into lower tiers.
The German football champion is decided strictly by play in the Bundesliga. Each club plays every other club once at home and once away. Originally, a victory was worth two points, with one point for a draw and none for a loss. Since the 1995-96 season, a victory has been worth three points, while a draw remains worth a single point, and zero points are given for a loss. The club with the most points at the end of the season becomes German champion. Currently, the top four clubs in the table qualify automatically for the group phase of the UEFA Champions League. The two teams at the bottom of the table are relegated into the 2. Bundesliga, while the top two teams in the 2. Bundesliga are promoted. The 16th-placed team (third-last), and the third-placed team in the 2. Bundesliga play a two-leg play-off match. The winner of this match plays the next season in the Bundesliga, and the loser in the 2. Bundesliga.
If teams are level on points, tie-breakers are applied in the following order:
If two clubs are still tied after all of these tie-breakers have been applied, a single match is held at a neutral site to determine the placement. However, this has never been necessary in the history of the Bundesliga.
In terms of team selection, matchday squads must have no more than five non-EU representatives. Nine substitutes are permitted to be selected, from which three can be used in the duration of the game.
The number of German clubs which may participate in UEFA competitions is determined by UEFA coefficients, which take into account the results of a particular nation's clubs in UEFA competitions over the preceding five years.
|Club||Position in 2019-20||First Bundesliga season||Number of seasons in Bundesliga||First season of current spell||Number of seasons of current spell||Bundesliga titles||National titles||Last title|
|Arminia Bielefeld||1 (2nd B)||1970-71||18||2020-21||1||0||0||-|
|1. FC Kölna||14||1963-64||49||2019-20||2||2||3||1978|
|VfB Stuttgarta||2 (2nd B)||1963-64||54||2020-21||1||3||5||2007|
a Founding member of the Bundesliga
b Never been relegated from the Bundesliga
|FC Augsburg||Augsburg||WWK Arena||30,660|||
|Bayern Munich||Munich||Allianz Arena||75,000|||
|Borussia Dortmund||Dortmund||Signal Iduna Park||81,359|||
|Borussia Mönchengladbach||Mönchengladbach||Stadion im Borussia-Park||59,724|||
|Eintracht Frankfurt||Frankfurt||Deutsche Bank Park||51,500|||
|SC Freiburg||Freiburg im Breisgau||Schwarzwald-Stadion||24,000|||
|1899 Hoffenheim||Sinsheim||Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena||30,164|||
|1. FC Köln||Cologne||RheinEnergieStadion||49,698|||
|RB Leipzig||Leipzig||Red Bull Arena||42,558|||
|Mainz 05||Mainz||Coface Arena||34,000|||
|VfB Stuttgart||Stuttgart||Mercedes-Benz Arena||60,449|||
|Union Berlin||Berlin||Stadion An der Alten Försterei||22,012|||
|VfL Wolfsburg||Wolfsburg||Volkswagen Arena||30,000|||
In the 2009-10 season the Bundesliga's turnover was EUR1.7bn, broken down into match-day revenue (EUR424m), sponsorship receipts (EUR573m) and broadcast income (EUR594m). That year it was the only European football league where clubs collectively made a profit. Bundesliga clubs paid less than 50% of revenue in players wages, the lowest percentage out of the European leagues. The Bundesliga has the lowest ticket prices and the highest average attendance among Europe's five major leagues.
Bundesliga clubs tend to form close associations with local firms, several of which have since grown into big global companies; in a comparison of leading Bundesliga and Premiership clubs, Bayern Munich received 55% of its revenue from company sponsorship deals, while Manchester United got 37%.
Bundesliga clubs are required to be majority-owned by German club members (known as the 50+1 rule to discourage control by a single entity) and operate under tight restrictions on the use of debt for acquisitions (a team only receives an operating license if it has solid financials), as a result 11 of the 18 clubs were profitable after the 2008-09 season. By contrast, in the other major European leagues numerous high-profile teams have come under ownership of foreign billionaires and a significant number of clubs have high levels of debt.
Exceptions to the 50+1 rule allow Bayer Leverkusen, 1899 Hoffenheim, and VfL Wolfsburg to be owned by corporations or individual investors. In the cases of Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, the clubs were founded by major corporations (respectively Bayer AG and Volkswagen) as sports clubs for their employees, while Hoffenheim has long received its primary support from SAP co-founder Dietmar Hopp, who played in the club's youth system.
After 2000 the German Football Association and the Bundesliga required every club to run a youth academy with the aim of developing local talent for the club and the national team. As of 2010 the Bundesliga and second Bundesliga spend EUR75m a year on these youth academies, which train five thousand players aged 12-18. This increased the percentage of under-23-year-olds in the Bundesliga from 6% in 2000 to 15% in 2010. This in turn allows more money to be spent on the smaller number of players that are bought.
In the 2000s, the Bundesliga was regarded as competitive, as five teams have won the league title. This contrasted with Spain's La Liga, dominated by the "Big Two" of Barcelona and Real Madrid, the English Premier League dominated by a "Big Four" (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal), as well as France's Ligue 1, won seven consecutive years by Lyon. In the second decade, however, a resurgent Bayern Munich has won each year from 2012-2013 onward as the Bavarian side has been able to outspend its rivals to purchase the league's best players.
For a number of years, the clubs in the Bundesliga have been subject to regulations not unlike the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations agreed upon in September 2009.
At the end of each season, clubs in the Bundesliga must apply to the German Football Federation (DFB) for a licence to participate again the following year; only when the DFB, who have access to all transfer documents and accounts, are satisfied that there is no threat of insolvency do they give approval. The DFB have a system of fines and points deductions for clubs who flout rules and those who go into the red can only buy a player after selling one for at least the same amount. In addition, no individual is allowed to own more than 49 per cent of any Bundesliga club, the only exceptions being VfL Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen and current 3. Liga member FC Carl Zeiss Jena should they ever be promoted to the Bundesliga as they were each founded as factory teams.
Despite the good economic governance, there have still been some instances of clubs getting into difficulties. In 2004, Borussia Dortmund reported a debt of EUR118.8 million (£83 million). Having won the Champions League in 1997 and a number of Bundesliga titles, Dortmund had gambled on maintaining their success with an expensive group of largely foreign players but failed, narrowly escaping liquidation in 2006. In subsequent years, the club went through extensive restructuring to return to financial health, largely with young home-grown players. In 2004 Hertha BSC reported debts of £24.7 million and were able to continue in the Bundesliga only after proving they had long term credit with their bank.
The leading German club Bayern Munich made a net profit of just EUR2.5 million in 2008-09 season (group accounts), while Schalke 04 made a net loss of EUR30.4 million in 2009 financial year.Borussia Dortmund GmbH & Co. KGaA, made a net loss of just EUR2.9 million in 2008-09 season.
Based on its per-game average, the Bundesliga is the best-attended association football league in the world; out of all sports, its average of 45,116 fans per game during the 2011-12 season was the second highest of any professional sports league worldwide, behind only the National Football League of the United States. Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund has the highest average attendance of any football club in the world.
Out of Europe's five major football leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, and Serie A ), the Bundesliga has the lowest ticket prices and the highest average attendance. Many club stadia have large terraced areas for standing fans (by comparison, stadia in the English Premier League are all-seaters due to the Taylor Report). Teams limit the number of season tickets to ensure everyone has a chance to see the games live, and the away club has the right to 10% of the available capacity. Match tickets often double as free rail passes which encourages supporters to travel and celebrate in a relaxed atmosphere. According to Bundesliga chief executive Christian Seifert, tickets are inexpensive (especially for standing room) as "It is not in the clubs' culture so much [to raise prices]. They are very fan orientated".Uli Hoeneß, president of Bayern Munich, was quoted as saying "We do not think the fans are like cows to be milked. Football has got to be for everybody."
The spectator figures for league for the last ten seasons:
|Season||Overall||Average||Best supported club||Average|
The Bundesliga TV, radio, internet, and mobile broadcast rights are distributed by DFL Sports Enterprises, a subsidiary of the Deutsche Fußball Liga. The Bundesliga broadcast rights are sold along with the broadcast rights to the relegation playoffs, 2. Bundesliga and DFL-Supercup.
From 2017 to 2018 to 2018-19, Bundesliga matches were broadcast on TV in Germany on Sky Deutschland and Eurosport. Prior to the 2019-20 season, Eurosport sublicensed its broadcast rights to sports streaming service DAZN, which will broadcast games previously allocated to Eurosport until the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. Three Friday night matches - the openers of the first and second halves of the season, and on the final matchday before the winter break - are broadcast to all Germans on ZDF.
Starting with the 2018-19 season, Sky began arranging simulcasts of high-profile Saturday games on free TV to promote its coverage of the league. The April 2019 Revierderby was broadcast on Das Erste, and two additional games during the 2019-20 season were broadcast on ZDF.
ZDF (1st, 17th, and 18th matchdays)
|Saturday||15:30||Sky Sport Bundesliga (5 matches)|
|Saturday||18:30||Sky Sport Bundesliga (1 match)|
|Sunday||13:30||DAZN (1 match on 5 matchdays)|
|Sunday||15:30||Sky Sport Bundesliga (1 match)|
|Sunday||18:00||Sky Sport Bundesliga (1 match)|
|Monday||20:30||DAZN (1 match on 5 matchdays)|
Radio coverage includes the national Konferenz (whip-around coverage) on the stations of ARD and full match coverage on local radio stations.
The Bundesliga is broadcast on TV in over 200 countries. ESPN has held rights in the United States since the beginning of the 2020-21 season. 4 matches per season are reserved for linear television with the rest appearing on ESPN+. In Canada, broadcast rights were sub-licensed to Sportsnet and Sportsnet World.
In total, 43 clubs have won the German championship, including titles won before the Bundesliga's inception and those in the East German Oberliga. The record champions are Bayern Munich with 30 titles, ahead of BFC Dynamo Berlin with 10 (all in East Germany) and 1. FC Nürnberg with 9.
Clubs in bold currently play in the top division.
|Club||Winners||Runners-up||Winning seasons||Runners-up seasons|
|Bayern Munich||29||10||1968-69, 1971-72, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1986-87, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1993-94, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2009-10, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20||1969-70, 1970-71, 1987-88, 1990-91, 1992-93, 1995-95, 1997-98, 2003-04, 2008-09, 2011-12|
|Borussia Dortmund||5||7||1994-95, 1995-96, 2001-02, 2010-11, 2011-12||1965-66, 1991-92, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2015-16, 2018-19, 2019-20|
|Borussia Mönchengladbach||5||2||1969-70, 1970-71, 1974-75, 1975-76, 1976-77||1973-74, 1977-78|
|Werder Bremen||4||7||1964-65, 1987-88, 1992-93, 2003-04||1967-68, 1982-83, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1994-95, 2005-06, 2007-08|
|Hamburger SV||3||5||1978-79, 1981-82, 1982-83||1975-76, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1983-84, 1986-87|
|VfB Stuttgart||3||2||1983-84, 1991-92, 2006-07||1978-79, 2002-03|
|1. FC Köln||2||5||1963-64, 1977-78||1964-65, 1972-73, 1981-82, 1988-89, 1989-90|
|1. FC Kaiserslautern||2||1||1990-91, 1997-98||1993-94|
|TSV 1860 Munich||1||1||1965-66||1966-67|
|1. FC Nürnberg||1||1967-68|
|Schalke 04||--||7||1971-72, 1976-77, 2000-01, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2009-10, 2017-18|
|Bayer Leverkusen||--||5||1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2001-02, 2010-11|
No club from former East Germany or Berlin has won the Bundesliga.
In 2004, the honour of "Verdiente Meistervereine" (roughly "distinguished champion clubs") was introduced, following a custom first practised in Italy to recognize sides that have won multiple championships or other honours by the display of gold stars on their team badges and jerseys. Each country's usage is unique and in Germany the practice is to award one star for three titles, two stars for five titles, three stars for 10 titles, and four stars for 20 titles.
The former East German side BFC Dynamo laid claim to the three stars of a 10-time champion. They petitioned the league to have their DDR-Oberliga titles recognized, but received no reply. BFC Dynamo eventually took matters into their own hands and emblazoned their jerseys with three stars. This caused some debate given what may be the tainted nature of their championships under the patronage of East Germany's secret police, the Stasi. The issue also affects other former East German and pre-Bundesliga champions. In November 2005, the DFB allowed all former champions to display a single star inscribed with the number of titles, including all German men's titles since 1903, women's titles since 1974 and East German titles.
The DFB format only applies to teams playing below the Bundesliga (below the top two divisions), since the DFL conventions apply in the Bundesliga. Greuther Fürth unofficially display three (silver) stars for pre-war titles in spite of being in the Bundesliga second division. These stars are a permanent part of their crest. However, Fürth has to leave the stars out on their jersey.
Since June 2010, the following clubs have been officially allowed to wear stars while playing in the Bundesliga. The number in parentheses is for Bundesliga titles won.
In addition, a system of one star designation was adopted for use. This system is intended to take into account not only Bundesliga titles but also other (now defunct) national championships. As of July 2014, the following clubs are allowed to wear one star while playing outside the Bundesliga. The number in parentheses is for total league championships won over the course of German football history, and would be displayed within the star. Some teams listed here had different names while winning their respective championships, these names are also noted in parentheses.
* currently member of 1. Bundesliga
** currently member of 2. Bundesliga
*** currently member of 3. Liga
For the first time in 1996, the Bundesliga was given its own logo to distinguish itself. Six years later, the logo was revamped into a portrait orientation, which was used until 2010. A new logo was announced for the 2010-11 season in order to modernise the brand logo for all media platforms. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bundesliga, a special logo was developed for the 2012-13 season, featuring a "50" and "1963-2013". Following the season, the 2010 logo was restored. In December 2016, it was announced that a new logo would be used for the 2017-18 season, modified slightly for digitisation requirements, featuring a matte look.
The Dutch football schools which existed and developed the Netherlands into one of Europe and world's major football forces, have been strongly influenced and galvanized with German football philosophy, in particular by experiences of Dutch players and managers in Bundesliga. Former England international Owen Hargreaves hailed Bundesliga alongside Pep Guardiola for its positive impact on nurturing young talents, noting Bundesliga is the best league in the world to promote young footballers. Many young English talents have sought refuge in Germany in order to regain its fitness and football skills. Outside Europe, the J.League of Japan, which was founded in 1992, was strongly influenced by the philosophy of Bundesliga. The J.League since then has managed to establish itself as one of the best football leagues in Asia, in which it shares a beneficial relationship with the German counterpart.
Bundesliga has earnt praise for its reputation on good financial management and the physical fitness of players.
The Bundesliga has at times been criticised for a perceived lack of competitiveness due to the continued dominance of FC Bayern Munich. The club has won a record 29 titles in the modern Bundesliga era since 1963; a greater level success than their rivals by a considerable margin. Indeed, the Bavarian club having won every consecutive title since the 2011-12 season. Former Germany international, Stefan Effenberg, has suggested that the league be restructured in order to end Bayern's dominance.
Boldface indicates a player still active in the Bundesliga.
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