Andreas Rettig is a man of clear words. “I am in favor of approaching such things with an open mind,” said the 60-year-old when he was introduced as the new managing director of sports for the German Football Association in the presence of DFB President Bernd Neuendorf. “I also give it out here and there, so you have to be able to take it. I don’t have a glass chin.”
Rettig was alluding to the reactions of ex-Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz-Rummenigge and the head of the supervisory board of RB Leipzig, Oliver Mintzlaff. Both resigned from the DFB task force on the sporting future of German football after the personnel were announced. “I have taken note of the fact that I am not FC Bayern’s preferred candidate,” said the new sports director with a smile, but added: “It is now a matter of all of us who are doing well with German football “I mean, undercut. Personal animosity towards Rettig as a person must not lead to us losing important protagonists. I would very much regret that.”
In the past, Rettig had clashed with representatives of FC Bayern several times. Bavaria’s honorary president Uli Hoeneß called Rettig the “king of the hypocrites” in a television program in September 2022 after he criticized the controversial awarding of the World Cup to Qatar. Rettig countered that Hoeneß was a “Qatar lobbyist”.
Supporter of the 50+1 rule
In recent years, Rettig has been one of the harshest critics of German football, which, in his opinion, is in danger of losing contact with the grassroots. Rettig said his attitude will not change as a result of his new position in the DFB: “We have to see that we not only reach the wallet, but also the hearts.” Among other things, it is important to maintain the so-called “50+1 rule”. This is a “foundation pillar of German football”.
The rule has so far made it impossible for billion-dollar investors to take over clubs in the first and second Bundesliga and decide on their sporting fortunes, as happened in England or France. The rule has been in place since the beginning of 1999. According to this, clubs only receive a gaming license if the “parent club” has “50 percent of the voting shares plus at least one additional voting share” at meetings. This means: Even if a major investor takes over financial control, he is not allowed to have the majority of the votes so that he can still be outvoted by the club members.
Rettig had also spoken out against the planned entry of investors into the German Football League (DFL), which ultimately failed due to the resistance of many smaller professional clubs. However, he is not fundamentally against investors, but just against the type of cooperation between the league and donors that was planned at the time. “Investors are very welcome,” said Rettig now. “You just have to stick to the rules of German football.”
Experience in club and league management
The new DFB managing director has a lot of experience as a football official. Rettig worked, among other things, as manager of the Bundesliga football clubs SC Freiburg, 1. FC Köln and FC Augsburg. For two years, from the beginning of 2013 to the beginning of 2015, Rettig was managing director of the DFL before returning to club football: first to the management of the second division club FC Sankt Pauli (2015 to 2019) and then of the third division club Viktoria Köln (2021 to 2022). .
At Cologne, Rettig had a “common good clause” written into the players’ contracts, which obliged them to spend at least one hour a month getting involved in society, for example by visiting old people’s homes, daycare centers or by donating blood. When asked whether he wanted to introduce something like this at the DFB, Rettig replied that he first had to find out how the association thought about it. “But there is no harm in devoting yourself to such topics.”
Völler should decide on Flick’s successor
With currently more than seven million members, the DFB is the largest national sports association in the world. The important position of Managing Director Sports has been vacant since December 7, 2022. After the men’s national team was eliminated from the preliminary round at the World Cup in Qatar, the DFB and Oliver Bierhoff parted ways. By then, Bierhoff had worked for the association for 18 years, focusing on the national team. “Andreas Rettig is not the new Oliver Bierhoff,” said DFB President Bernd Neuendorf. Rettig will work on “a completely new field of responsibility” and represents the announced “change in perspective” in the DFB.
As managing director of sports, Rettig is now formally in charge of three sports directors: Rudi Völler, responsible for the men’s national team, Hannes Wolf, who looks after young talent, training and development, and a director for the DFB women. This position has not yet been filled, nor has the successor to the dismissed men’s national coach Hansi Flick been settled.
Neuendorf and Rettig assured that Rudi Völler would be responsible for appointing the new national coach. Flick’s successor should be settled by the national team’s trip to the USA, which begins on October 9th. There will be no water level reports until then, said Neuendorf.
“Generalist and all-rounder”
Rettig described the DFB’s current situation as “economically challenging” and – with a view to the failure of the German footballers in the respective World Cup preliminary rounds – as “difficult in terms of sport, but with bright spots”. The managing director cited the men’s 2-1 win in the friendly against vice world champions France as an example of this, in which Völler sat on the coaching bench as a substitute.
And how does Rettig see himself in his new role? “Not as a pure businessman, but as a generalist and all-rounder,” he answered. “I won’t comment on game results. I see myself more in strategic direction – and not as someone who runs onto the pitch and hugs the U17 coach.”
On Friday, Rettig said he tried to contact Bayern grandees Hoeneß and Rummenigge – without success and without any response from either of them. The new sports director assured that he wanted to get everyone on board as the “impulse and pacesetter for the DFB’s departure”: “We don’t just need Bayern, but the entire league. It can only be done together. That has to be the motto.”