Ahead of the upcoming international matches against Ukraine on Monday (18:00 CEST), Poland on 16th June (20:45 CEST) and Colombia on 20th June (20:45 CEST), DFB president Bernd Neuendorf and sporting director Rudi Völler spoke in an interview with DFB.de about the significance of the Ukraine match and the socio-political importance of the national team.
...the significance of the Ukraine game: For all of us, the game is special, it’s an extraordinary occasion. The game has a very special meaning; we are playing with Ukraine in this game rather than against Ukraine. This game is a real statement for me; we are looking forward to it and our guests from Ukraine.
...Bremen as the venue: This is the first international match in Bremen since 2012 and it’s about time that the football-loving area of Bremen is once again involved at the international level. After my election, I began talks with politicians and Werder Bremen. We are exactly one year away from the start of the European Championship and we want to inspire the fans and win them over. We want to grow closer to the fans.
...the 6 p.m. kick-off time: It will be a success and it’s a signal to the fans! We are making it possible for many families with children to come to the stadium, it will be full.
...the significance of the 1000th game: It’s an incredible story; we are only the fifth nation to reach this milestone. To have reached this mark is a great moment for the DFB.
...the finances at the DFB: I have always said that we are pushing the structural deficit further down the line. We are currently bringing together the individual results from the different teams and want to be in a position to deal with a difficult issue like this on our own. We will discuss and deliberate within the committees.
...the reorganisation of the DFL and the basic contract: We have not yet held talks with the DFL personnel, but we will approach each other and swap ideas. It’s good that the DFL’s ability to act has been improved. We are also in the final stages of discussions on the basic contract, and have had good talks in this area right from the start, first internally at the DFB about the essential things and then together with the league. It’s not just about money, but also about structural issues and details that have to be clarified. We are on the home stretch and will keep the deadline of 30th June.
...the socio-political significance of the national team: We have set our own guidelines as an association and made them very clear before Qatar. We will also highlight issues apart from the ones concerning football.
...Oliver Kahn in the task force: That hasn’t changed, even though he is no longer with FC Bayern München. Oliver Kahn is still part of it.
...the importance of the Ukraine match: I’m looking forward to it! In particular, it being the 1000th international game is something special. An occasion like this, given the context, has a great significance.
...Niklas Süle not being selected: Hansi Flick is the best judge of that and has already explained it very well. Hansi knows him and has expressed it well. We hope that he can get back involved by performing well at BVB.
...the 2001 World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine: Back then it was in the play-offs and I’ve already said in many interviews that I haven’t often felt as much pressure as I did in those two games. Back then, we played against an incredible team with amazing fans. We went into the second leg in Dortmund at 1-1, but then turned the game in our favour relatively quickly.
...Football expertise in the DFL: Congratulations to the new management, they have done a good job in their different areas. The football expertise is there, and Hans-Joachim Watzke will also be there with advice and support. We as the DFB are not far away either.
...Di Salvo and Gerland’s contract extensions: I’m pleased about that! Especially before the major tournament, there’s more momentum and the connection between the two is refreshing. I will also be there for the U21 European Championship.
...the connection between the U21s and the senior national team: It goes without saying that the work with youth teams is very important, which is why we are also looking for a new sporting director. Especially when there are injuries, it’s nice to be able to swap a few players back and forth. The communication between the coaches is also particularly important.
...the incident with Antonio Rüdiger: I know what happened and I spoke to Toni yesterday. He is sorry and has already apologised. Antonio Rüdiger will definitely stay with the team and we shouldn’t exaggerate the incident.
...Kai Havertz and his importance for the national side: I’ve been following his wonderful career and will have a brief chat with him over a cup of coffee. Kai is an extremely important player in the national team. He is no longer part of the younger generation, but has become a regular international player. What makes him special is that he can play very well in four or five positions. I look forward to talking to him.
...passion and the bond with the fans: The most important thing is to perform and bring quality on the pitch, and I have a good feeling about that at the moment. We have a good connection with young players and experienced players. I can’t guarantee anything, but I can promise that we will be committed to performing well. On the big stage, you don’t just need footballing quality, but also passion.
...the striker issue in the side: That’s not a new issue and it’s also one all over the world. The classic nine barely exists anymore. We are happy that we have the best goalscorer in the league in our ranks. Niclas Füllkrug is someone who can score goals and there’s a lot to be said about him.